Annual Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List Winners Announced

This year’s winners celebrated at a virtual launch event hosted by BBC Radio 2’s Ken Bruce

Dimensions, the UK’s largest not-for-profit that supports people with learning disabilities and autism, has announced the winners of its Annual Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List. Run in conjunction with Learning Disability England and VODG, it celebrates the extraordinary stories and achievements of individuals across the UK.

The Leaders’ List gives people with learning disabilities and autism an opportunity to be recognised, celebrated and represented in the mainstream media. Dimensions’ research has revealed that 75% of respondents feel that it is easy for people in the wider community to forget about people with learning disabilities and autism. Therefore, providing individuals with a platform to share their stories on the national stage remains vital to increasing representation.

Highlighting the stories and achievements of people with learning disabilities and autism will not only serve to overcome harmful stereotypes but will inspire others in the community to achieve things they perhaps did not think would be possible for them. Considering over 96% of respondents Dimensions’ research felt that they have something to learn from people with learning disabilities and autism, showcasing their talents, successes and achievements will benefit people from all walks of life.

The 2022 Leaders were announced across four categories: arts and entertainment; local communities; work and education; and advocacy, policy and media. Recognising leaders across a broad spectrum of fields showcases the breadth of talents that people with learning disabilities and / or autism have.

Some examples of the 2022 winners include:
• Leanne Yeo – a two-time medallist at the Special Olympic games who has also singlehandedly raised over £4,500 for charity this year.
• Elliott Garcia – who was cast as the voice of Bruno The Break Car, the first ever autistic character in Thomas & Friends, and has overcome many anxieties that came with this amazing opportunity.
• Lewis Barlow – a leader of a gardening project in Warrington that encourages friendships and confidence amongst people with learning disabilities and autism.
• Nigel Hollins – founder of the charity Beyond Words that seeks to help disabled people experience stories by creating word-free books and setting up book clubs across the country.
• The Stop People Dying Too Young Group – a group that is challenging the unequal treatment of patients with autism and / or learning disabilities throughout the pandemic.

The celebration will be hosted by BBC Radio 2’s Ken Bruce and featured presentations for each category alongside a keynote speech from Leader and author Richard Keagan-Bull and a closing speech from Dimensions’ CEO Rachael Dodgson.

Rachael Dodgson, CEO at Dimensions, said:
“Dimensions is proud to present this award to all of this years’ Leaders’. The Leaders’ List is a reminder of the personal strengths and contributions that people with learning disabilities and autistic people make to the local community. I am deeply inspired by all of their achievements and hope you will join me in celebrating them”

The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group said:
“We are proud to support the Leaders List 2022. Celebrating the work and contributions of people with a learning disability and autistic people is so important – we are looking forward to celebrating the 2022 winners. Thank you to our partners who have made this fantastic event happen, and an even bigger thank you to all of those who have entered this year.”

Ken Bruce, BBC Radio 2 DJ and Leaders’ List award ceremony host, said:
“I have had the privilege of hosting the Leaders’ List Awards Ceremony for several years, yet the achievements of the Leaders never cease to amaze me! I have been inspired by all the stories and am very proud to be part of an event that rightfully celebrates these achievements. A huge congratulations to all the winners.”


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