The Lesley Finley Awards

Scope supports the DIAL Network, an independent network of local disability information and advice services, run by and for disabled people.

Every year the DIAL Network helps over a quarter of a million disabled people. Melanie Close, Chief Executive of Disability Equality North West (DENW) talks about an awards ceremony they recently held to recognise the contribution that Disabled People make in the community.

lesley finlay
Lesley Finlay taking part in a march

It was with great shock and sadness that we found our Chair, and friend Lesley Finley had passed away last year.

Lesley, who used to be a nurse, was registered blind at the age of 25 caused by the diabetes which she was diagnosed with at the age of 10.

She had two kidney transplants as well as two pancreas transplants and was also a bilateral amputee – not many people realized that Lesley wore two prosthetic legs.

But despite her health issues, Lesley was a good friend and hardworking colleague of Disability Equality NW for over 10 years. Starting as a volunteer, she went on to become a Trustee, Company Secretary, Vice Chair and then Chair of the organisation. Lesley had a passion for supporting and enabling Disability Equality to support local disabled people and where necessary would actively challenge service providers to ensure equality of access for all. Lesley was a quiet person who worked extremely hard, she would do what needed to be done, without making a fuss or telling everyone she’d done it; Lesley never sought gratitude or acknowledgement – she just wanted to make the world a better place for disabled people.

We wanted to celebrate Lesley’s life and the contribution she made to our organisation and decided to hold the first Lesley Finley Awards ceremony. The award highlights and recognises the amazing work done by disabled people in Lancashire, to improve the lives of other disabled people. The awards were also a tribute to Lesley – to the hard work and commitment she showed in helping others

We plan to make the award on an annual basis to a disabled person who has made outstanding achievements and contributions in the areas of disability rights, welfare and support of disabled people and the promotion of independence and the principles of the Social Model of Disability.

The award was sponsored by Community Gateway, Prestons largest social housing provider.

Seven people were shortlisted for the award, all who had made an outstanding and varied contribution to the community.

The winner of the award was David Hinchliffe for his role as a volunteer at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, helping to make exhibitions and projects accessible for people with visual impairments and hard work in assisting a group to be independent and continue to meet after project funding came to an end.

We’re looking forward to next year’s awards and seeing all of the great work that is happening in our community.