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The Mike Devenney Scholarship: opening doors for disabled students

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Lady Bracknell's Editor | 12:24 UK time, Saturday, 14 July 2007

Mike Devenney – amongst many other accomplishments, a Commissioner of the DRC – died very suddenly of pneumonia in 2004 aged only 45. In Mike’s memory, his family has established a scholarship fund in his name .

The fund aims to make an award of about £1000 every year to one or two ambitious disabled students in the UK, to help defray the extra costs they incur in comparison with their non-disabled peers.

Applications for 2007 have closed but, if you’re intending to be in further education in 2008/09, you might want to bookmark the site.

I count myself very lucky to have had the privilege of sitting in the front row of one of Mike’s presentations. The following quotation from his obituary in the Guardian sums up the Mike I heard speak:

"Most people could only understand Mike's speech through a third-party facilitator - but this did not detract from his communication skills. At a 1992 Rotterdam conference Mike asked if I would stand in as his facilitator. This involved Mike giving a few sentences at a time and then me repeating them to the audience. He began and I couldn't understand him, so he provided a repeat - but I still couldn't understand him. The third time around someone in the front row called out: "He's speaking in Dutch!"

By now back in English, Mike said: "Two lessons there. The first is you should never underestimate someone because they are disabled. The second is that all too often disabled people are only limited by the poor quality of resources available to them!" "

For more information about Mike’s life and work – including the full text of that obituary – go to this link .

• Visit The Perorations of Lady Bracknell


I have had the privilige of both meeting and being present at one of Mike's presentations. My good friend Alan Counsell tells many a story of Mike's escapades. One in particular sticks in my mind when the two of them were out shopping and Mike, who had a tendancy to dribble, went into Burton's and asked if he might purchase a Teflon tie so he could just wipe it clean. Apparently, the poor salesman was completely non-plussed at this request and didn't know what to do with himself. Once outside of course Alan and Mike were in fits of laughter.

Mike was a fantastic advocate for disabled people everywhere and this scholarship is a fitting tribute.

  • 2.
  • At 05:30 PM on 19 Jul 2007, H wrote:

I never met Mr Devenney, but he sounds like he was a real character, just the sort of guy who the disability movement really needed.

We still need characters, who can teach lessons without preaching, and with a smile.

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