Campaigner earns honorary degree

May 03 2022

Disability campaigner Gordon Richardson receives his honorary degree at Bristol University

Disability campaigner Gordon Richardson receives his  honorary degree at Bristol University

DISABILITY campaigner Gordon Richardson has received an honorary degree from  the University of Bristol.

Gordon was paralysed from the chest down by polio as a child. He showed a flair for finance from a young age, buying his first shares aged nine, and went on to complete an Economics and Accounting degree at the university of Bristol.

Now 68, he spent 30 successful years in the finance sector, before retiring age 50 having qualified as a chartered accountant and financial advisor.

Since then Gordon, who lives in Westbury-on-Trym,  has spent two decades helping disabled people in Bristol and further afield.

He received an honorary degree in front of 300 fellow Bristol graduates.

Gordon said: “I loved my three years at university and made some of my closest friends there. There are around 40 of us who still meet up now, half a century after we left. 

“Bristol really set me up for life, and I’ve got no complaints about the way it turned out.”

He has spent the last 20 years working with Bristol and national disability charities, to “give something back”.

He co-founded the Fishponds-based Vassall Centre Trust (VCT), which developed into one of the first fully accessible workplaces in the UK.

Since leaving the trust in 2014, he has become co-chair of the Bristol Disability Equality Forum, which advises the council on disability rightsMore recently he has been elected to the national board of the British Polio Fellowship and last month was made chair of the charity. In the same month he was appointed as one of the new Disability Equality Commissioners, a group of disability experts who advise the Bristol Mayor.

He also uses his finance skills as Treasurer of the Bristol Walking Alliance, Bristol West Diabetes Support Network and the regional arm of the British Polio Fellowship.

Gordon spent 15 years as a pre-school governor and was on the Bristol Schools’ Forum. 

“I got so much out of society, all the medical support over the years and everything else, it was time to put something back,” said Mr Richardson, who lives in Westbury-on-Trym.

“And that was my skill, giving a voice to people who didn’t get the same education as me, people who need a helping hand.”

Mr Richardson was nominated by staff at the University of Bristol’s Norah Fry Centre for Disability Studies.Professor Judith Squires, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at the University of Bristol, said: “He is a credit to our university and we are proud to welcome him back here.”