EXPIRED: 09/03/09 – Baroness Nicky Chapman, 48, stopped growing and was wheelchair bound for most of her life. So she focused on ensuring homes for UK’s disabled were accessible & affordable and make it illegal for cabs to bypass potential fares in wheelchairs.
The disabled rights champion joined the House of Lords in 2004 under the the People’s Peers Initiative launched by Tony Blair.
She was born with a brittle bone disease, which caused her to suffer more than 600 fractures during her lifetime and meant she had to use a wheelchair. But even though she was less than 3 feet tall, her energy, wit and compassion made for a towering personality.
“I live with it, I don’t suffer from it,” she once said of her condition.
She and her two brothers were always told they could be anyone and do anything, although she sometimes found the reality a little different.
Born in Leeds, UK, Nicky went to the John Jamieson school for the physically disabled but found it restricting. At Park Lane College, in Leeds, and later at Trinity and All Saints’ College, she studied business management. It was only after she lost her job running a computer department that her campaigning spirit came to a head.
She began working as a volunteer advocate for disabled tenants. Her work frequently took her into schools where she gave talks to schoolchildren explaining what it was like being disabled.
“It’s about raising awareness, if you can get them when they’re still young you’ve got a chance because they don’t know prejudice at that age.”
Throughout her life she had to contend with abuse from people in the street, although she always met the bigots head-on.
And why not? In her own words, what does she have to lose?: “When I was a few months old the doctors said there was nothing more they could do for me, they sent me home to die – and I’m still waiting.”