The duck boat and turning tides…


It was the launch of Learning Disability England yesterday afternoon. In the House of Lords. With afternoon tea. I came out of Westminster station with the streets flooding and the London Duck Tour waiting by the lights. Ooof… One of those moments. My mum and dad took LB and Tom for a day out on the duck boat in the holidays. Years ago. I’ve not seen it since (thought it had been disappeared).

Another sign, I thought. As the sign bucket overflowed.

On to the launch. And Learning Disability England. Guts, passion and punch also by the bucket full. A membership organisation for pretty much everyone (£12.00 a pop for membership for individuals), democratically run; e.g. no big decision will be made unless 1/3 of the vote is from learning disabled members… Wow. A wow moment that so shouldn’t wow in 2016. Underpinning principles; challenging, empowering, being creative and putting learning disabled people first. Wow… 

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The various pieces of LDE are just brilliant. Colourful. Random. Expert and passionately committed to improving people’s lives. The rain stopped…


After nosh, tea and chat, the ‘speeches’ (brief, to the point, heartfelt and led by Gary Bourlet) included Jane Campbell who held her hands up in acknowledgement and recognition that the UK disability rights movement just didn’t think about learning disabled people back in the day. (Physically) disabled people were too busy fighting the civil rights fight.

It was an emotional event.

I remembered another afternoon tea at the House of Commons type jobby. Way back before the duck boats were recommissioned. The Mencap Breaking Point report launch. A small group of (uppity) families travelled by the train from Haddenham. We got through the day, kept a lid on the excitement, stopped a stampede on the cake table and managed to calm down a cab driver on the way back to Marylebone after LB announced there was a bomb in Big Ben… We were very much the mint chocs that come with the bill that day. Meaningless and typically tasteless trimmings.

Hearing Jane Campbell put her hands up to an omission of non inclusivity (everything about us without us…) in a diverse crowd of people, made me think how far we have come. Then that blinking boat went past on the river. Twice. In one day. A reality check.

Bring it on Learning Disability England. We will be supporting, cheering and challenging.

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3 thoughts on “The duck boat and turning tides…

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