Disability equality champion Dave Thompson made Freeman of Warrington


A LEADING figure in disability equality has been made an Honorary Freeman of Warrington.

Dave Thompson MBE DL has received the honour in recognition of his significant contribution to the borough through his work to promote accessibility and inclusion and improve the lives of people with disabilities

Dave is a recognised community and national leader, with more than 40 years’ experience in the voluntary sector. A tireless champion for disabled people, he has led the development of services from inception to international recognition.
Founder of Warrington Disability Partnership (WDP), which was formed in 1991, Dave is the current chief executive, having served as chairman up until 2014. He also is the current managing director of the WDP trading arm, The Disability Trading Company.
He is founder and co-ordinator of Warrington’s annual Disability Awareness Day (DAD) which, since its inaugural event in 1992, has grown into is the world’s largest pan disability event, welcoming 250 exhibitors and almost 30,000 visitors each year.
DAD has helped raise more than £1 million for local charities and has gone on to support events internationally, in countries such as Gibraltar, India, Uganda and Cameroon.
Alongside his work for the WDP, Dave also spent 20 years as a senior manager in the NHS, leading on equality and diversity, patient and public involvement, and social inclusion.

In 2021, he took up a role as associate non-executive director at Warrington and Halton NHS Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and has developed and led training events and seminars for more than 35,000 people from the public and private sector. He is also a regular guest lecturer at universities and colleges.
Alongside his professional activities, Dave is an avid patron of several charities, including the Tim Parry and Jonathan Ball Foundation for Peace, Ella Together – Inclusive Performance Group, Cheshire Police Museum and Warrington Sea Cadets.
His achievements have seen him receive a range of honours, including an MBE in 2001 for services for disabled people. Other awards include the “Paul Harris Fellowship” International award from Rotary in 2004, an Honorary MBA from Chester University in 2011, the Entrepreneur of Excellence Award for Disability at the National Diversity Awards in 2013 and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Warrington Business Awards.
But perhaps the most incredible part of Dave’s story is that it all started when he suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury while playing American football in 1989 which left him in a wheelchair after nine months in hospital.
Mayor of Warrington Cllr Steve Wright said: “We are delighted that David has been made an Honorary Freeman of Warrington, in recognition of his outstanding service to our borough. His commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities in Warrington is truly inspiring, with his work helping to raise awareness, break down barriers and deliver real change.

“David’s invaluable work in delivering Warrington’s Disability Awareness Day since 1992 has seen the event grow into one of the most important days in Warrington’s annual calendar, fostering a deeper understanding of disability issues, celebrating the achievements of disabled people and attracting attention, not only nationally, but internationally.
“His positive influence can be seen throughout many aspects of life in Warrington and beyond. For more than four decades, he has fostered strong relationships with the council, community organisations, local businesses, health services, education institutions and many more, working collaboratively to create a more inclusive environment for all. He is a worthy recipient of the borough’s highest accolade.”
Dave said: “I was truly shocked and surprised on hearing the news that I was being nominated for this honour. It is humbling to hear that the impact of the work I do as part of a great team at Warrington Disability Partnership, is held in such high esteem.
“Thinking back to 1989, our whole family and close friends were affected by my accident and complications that followed. There were plenty of very dark days, when finding a purpose to get out of bed was difficult. Setting small, achievable goals, really helped. None of what has been attributed to me, would have been possible without the support of my wife Pam, son Gavin, daughter Emma, our immediate family, close friends, and our team at WDP.
“I hope that other disabled people who are starting out on their journey can take encouragement from my experiences, which is driven by the philosophy that ‘it’s what we can do, not what we can’t do, that matters’. It still amazes me that what we do is seen as groundbreaking and special, when all that is needed is to listen to what people need, and then work with them, and importantly, our partners to find solutions that help them”.


About Author

Leave A Comment