Honour for Ripley’s disability champion

NRHNBE110621c1, Ripley man Keith Boot awarded an MBE in the Queens birthday honours list.
NRHNBE110621c1, Ripley man Keith Boot awarded an MBE in the Queens birthday honours list.

a RIPLEY man who campaigns on behalf of disabled people has been awarded the MBE.

Keith Boot, 77, has been chairman of the Amber Valley Access Group for ten years and a volunteer for 20 years.

He said this week: “I am pleased but I am shocked. I have been in it a long while!”

Keith will be presented with a medal by the Queen on a date yet to be confirmed. He chairs the monthly meetings of the access group flagging issues which cause difficulties for people with disabilities.

“We can’t enforce anything but we bring it up at council meetings until action is taken,” he said.

Keith has recently raised concerns about cars reversing down Oxford Street when the bollards have not been raised. He said: “One or two people with disabilities have been knocked over. It is one constant battle but it is being looked at now.”

He is currently scrutinising the crossing at the bottom of Church Street after someone fell out of their wheelchair.

He advises Amber Valley Borough Council and Derbyshire County Council on design and access issues for the diabled, commenting on Amber Valley’s leisure centres, churches and doctor’s surgeries, as well as Ripley hospital’s car park. He said: “I look at planning every week and see if it is compliant with regulations.”

Keith is himself a wheelchair user after an operation on his spine went wrong following an accident at work 24 years ago, while in the plumbing department on a construction site.

He said: “I can only do so much because I have severe problems with my spine. It’s been a bit of therapy for me – instead of thinking about your own problems. I went to a pain clinic and the doctor advised me to concentrate on something I knew about.”

He got involved with the access group when he realised he knew more about the issues involved than the people who came to do the adaptations on his house. He modestly concedes that he is “a bit of an expert now”.

Amber Valley councillors and officers nominated Keith for the award. He is keen to get more people involved with the group. If you would like more information call the Derbyshire Centre for Inclusive Living on 01773 246740.