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Campaigner and Activist Lucy Watts MBE receives honorary Masters


Campaigner and activist Lucy Watts MBE has been awarded an honorary Masters from The Open University for her commitment to public services.

Lucy Watts lives with a life-limiting condition and draws on her own experiences of disability to improve the lives of other people grappling with severe illness. She is determined not only to experience all the pleasures and joys that life has to offer, but also to bring about lasting and positive change for others.

In her acceptance speech, Lucy said:

“Today is our opportunity to celebrate achievement, perseverance, dedication, commitment and of course hard work.

Like many OU students, I overcome a lot of barriers in order to achieve – in my personal life in terms of the day to day impact of my condition and its management, but also in my social and professional life, in terms of the barriers such as attitudes and accessibility faced by disabled people like me.

Disabled people often feel like second class citizens, but the OU stands out in its support of disabled students and its achievements speak for itself. The OU is an institution known for its accessibility and openness, for people of all walks of life.”

Speaking out to change lives

Lucy’s career as an activist arose from her determination to make a difference. She began to publicly discuss the importance of palliative care for young adults, whose needs are so different from the elderly people these services are generally designed for. As a result, Lucy went to the Houses of Parliament on behalf of Together for Short Lives to explain directly to politicians, policy makers and healthcare professionals how important these services are. She has advised policy makers at the Department of Health and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence on a range of issues.

Lucy is an Ambassador for Together for Short Lives, and for Dreams Come True, which grants wishes to children and young people living with serious medical conditions. She is also the first Youth Ambassador appointed by the International Children’s Palliative Care Networks. Having trained her own assistance dog, Molly, Lucy is also a strong supporter of the Assistance in Disability charity Dog A.I.D. She has worked with a huge range of charities focused on disability, health and social care and was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to young people with disabilities.

Lucy spoke to The OU

An accomplished and eloquent spokesperson

Dr Steven Hutchinson, Head of The Open University’s School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport said:

“Lucy is an accomplished and eloquent spokesperson for the needs and rights of the ill and disabled. She has appeared on many different media platforms discussing health care reforms, special educational needs, disability services and palliative care, and is especially committed to improving the connections between children’s and adult services.

Lucy’s support and advice have been hugely beneficial to the Open University Sexuality Alliance, which has produced guidance and standards for those working with young people with life-limiting illnesses and conditions. These help healthcare professionals discuss issues around sex, relationships and intimacy appropriately, with care and respect for individual dignity and privacy.

Lucy writes and speaks on this issue with the passion and honesty which characterise all her work. We are honoured to celebrate the life and work of this truly inspirational and extraordinary young woman.”

Lucy posted about the day on twitter:

About Author

Liz works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She has over 15 years' marketing experience working across a range of sectors, from diamonds to shampoo. She has a BSc (Hons) in Management from UMIST. In her spare time, Liz is usually found on roller skates or off travelling, having adventures.

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