The Prime Minister has recognised Carrickfergus man Thomas Haighton for establishing Learning Disability Pride (LDP) which is taking place today (Saturday) in the Co Antrim town.
Thomas set up the event - the first of its kind in the UK - to celebrate the contributions to society of people with learning disabilities.
Over 33,000 people in Northern Ireland have a learning disability and Thomas was inspired to create a fun, inclusive and free programme allowing people of all ages to come together to promote positive attitudes and challenge stereotypes.
The event, starting in Carrickfergus at 12 noon, involves a parade showcasing flags, posters, banners, and floats created by people with learning disabilities, organisations, and schools in Northern Ireland, as well as featuring music, entertainment, sports activities and workshops.
More than 5,000 people attended the first LDP in 2017. Mencap is a proud supporter and recently donated £12,000 to the project.
In a personal letter to Thomas, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Through ‘Learning Disability Pride Day’, you are bringing together our communities to celebrate the contribution of people with learning disabilities. Your work is so important, both by challenging perceptions and promoting the positive message of diversity and inclusion.”
Thomas is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.
A delighted Thomas said: “I would like to accept this award on behalf of the amazing team behind Learning Disability Pride who have supported me in making it a huge success.
“It’s great to see what started as a small idea celebrating the achievements and contributions of people with a learning disability through a day that brings everyone together has grown and moved across the UK.
“I hope that Learning Disability Pride continues to grow and people with a learning disability continue to be involved as valued and equal members of our community.”