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Memorial lecture leaves its audience wanting more

23 Nov 2016

The University's first ever public lecture on the rights and equality of disabled people, given by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, was a resounding success

Tanni Grey-Thompson and Lemn Sissay take a selfie

Organised by Hamied Haroon and Melanie Sharpe (Co-Chairs of the University’s Disabled Staff Network), the Lord Morris of Manchester Memorial Lecture - in honour of Alf Morris, the world’s first Minister for Disabled People - on Thursday, 3 November was a truly ground-breaking and memorable event.

Venture Arts and DaDaFest provided a stunning exhibition of artworks and videos by local disabled artists in the foyer of the Martin Harris Centre which captivated the attention of all of the guests.

Victoria Macdonald from Channel 4 News made the perfect MC for the main event in the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall. 

Proceedings began with a breathtaking joint choral performance by the Ad Solem Chamber Choir and the Seashell Trust Signing Choir (Lord Morris was the President of the Seashell Trust).

Then Professor Clive Agnew (Vice President for Teaching, Learning and Students, and Champion of the Disabled Staff Network in the Senior Leadership Team) officially welcomed everyone on behalf of the University, before the evening’s main attraction!

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson was the ideal choice to give the inaugural lecture. Confident, humble, inspiring and honest, she paid an awesome tribute to the great Alf Morris.

Tanni was joined by Jane Cordell (Result CIC) and Tom McAlpine OBE (Moodswings) on the distinguished panel for the interactive Q&A session. Sadly, Kate Nash OBE (PurpleSpace) was unable to attend due to illness. Victoria kept the panel on their toes, kicking off with some great questions before the audience got stuck in on some tough points. Each panel member faced the questions head on.

Lemn Sissay MBE (the University’s Chancellor) offered his reflections on the evening, before Mike Kane MP wrapped up the evening with his vote of thanks.

Attendees were tweeting all evening and Tanni later blogged about her lecture at:

After the event, Melanie Sharpe said: "The lecture was a resounding success thanks to everyone involved and all of our guests, including the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester and Manchester’s Deputy Lord Mayor. The positive feedback we have received has been overwhelming. One question we keep being asked is: When will the next Memorial Lecture take place?

"We are indebted to the Martin Harris Centre, Policy@Manchester and all of our sponsors for their amazing support. We were very privileged to work with Lady Morris and Gill Morris, Mike Kane MP, Manchester Trades Union Council, North West TUC Disability Forum, our Students’ Union and our Equality and Diversity Office to organise this incredible and historic event on behalf of our Disabled Staff Network.

"If Alf was listening, we’re sure he would have been smiling with pride!"