Claire Hodgson: Disability arts champion made MBE

Image source, Claire Hodgson
Image caption,
Claire Hodgson is former head of performing arts at London Metropolitan University.

The founder of a dance company featuring disabled and non-disabled performers that opened the 2012 Olympic sailing events has been recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

Claire Hodgson, chief executive of Diverse City, is appointed MBE for services to inclusion and integration in the arts and cultural sectors.

She also helped set up the touring circus company Extraordinary Bodies.

Ms Hodgson, from Swanage in Dorset, said she was "delighted" by the award.

"The performing arts must reflect the world as it is and that all people should be seen and heard," she said.

In 2011, six years after it was founded, Diverse City was commissioned to deliver Breathe - a project between Brazil and Dorset that brought together young performers at the opening celebrations of the Olympic sailing events.

Image source, Andy Beeson
Image caption,
Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists is a group of aspiring disabled and non-disabled artists

The show, in front of an audience of 11,000 people, involved a cast of 64 from the UK and Brazil, performing aerial work from cranes 20ft (six metres) above Weymouth beach.

She has also collaborated with Cirque Bijou to set up Extraordinary Bodies - the UK's first national touring professional circus company to include disabled and non-disabled circus artists - and Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists - a group of aspiring performers.

She said: "None of my achievements have been alone but have come as a result of deep partnerships, collaborations and friendships.

"This MBE is a recognition for everyone I work alongside who are making a difference and a confirmation that greater equality will be achieved."

Other Dorset residents to receive honours include Elizabeth Spreadbury from Bournemouth, who has been appointed MBE for services to survivors of abuse, and foster carers Roy and Kathleen Shayler from Weymouth, who have helped more than 150 fostered children since 1972.

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