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Andrew Marr & Jackie Ashley discuss adapting to a life-changing event at The Alf Morris Lecture 2016

On Thursday March 17th, the second Alf Morris Lecture was given by Andrew Marr, journalist and TV presenter, and his wife, former-Guardian journalist and current President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, Jackie Ashley.

The event was attended by many leading names from the disability world and plans are already underway for next year’s Lecture.

Andrew and Jackie discussed their experiences adapting to life after Andrew's stroke in 2013. This was the first time they had talked as a couple about their experiences, sharing their insights on the effects on family and work life, rehabilitation and the need for better access to help and information.

During the evening Andrew talked about many topics, including how following his stroke he was discharged without nearly enough physiotherapy and how hard and repetitive post-stroke therapy can be. Andrew also touched on the difference that even the most basic daily living aids can make and the often high cost of private physiotherapy once someone has been discharged: “‘There are lots of aids out there and stroke recovery can take years and years and years. It’s about how much independence people can get back, and even the most basic pieces of equipment can make the difference between coping and not being able to cope. But it’s information about these things (like a leg brace) that people do not necessarily know about. With regards to the cost of additional private post stroke physiotherapy – this is something the vast majority of people cannot afford but it can make such a huge difference to your long term recovery”.

Jackie spoke passionately about how government should look at the cost-benefits of offering increased levels of care after discharge from hospital with a view to getting more people back into full-time employment, and how much the economy would save in the long term. Care from the NHS and social care often ends after as little as six weeks, and the timing varies as you move around the UK: “This is a massive issue as people can be working, earning, contributing and paying taxes”. Jackie also spoke about the need for carers’ leave: “I took the best part of a year off to look after Andrew but many people are unable to do this and I hope that one day carers’ leave will be available to people in a similar situation to us.”

Both Andrew and Jackie had previously been aware of living with disability through Jackie’s father, the late Jack Ashley, who was MP for Stoke on Trent from 1966 to 1992 before being ennobled as Baron Ashley of Stoke. Following a routine ear operation in 1967, Jack became profoundly deaf but, being tenacious and driven, he dedicated the rest of his life to campaigning for disability rights. He was a founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Disability Group, which was a vital support to Alf Morris when the latter was driving what became the Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons Act through Parliament. He was also instrumental in getting the Disability Discrimination Act passed in 1995.

Launched by the Disabled Living Foundation, The Alf Morris Fund for Independent Living was set up to honour a man who made a difference to the most vulnerable members of society. The Fund will help people find out about the resources available to keep them independent, and to help them make choices. Its purpose echoes Alf’s vision of, in his own words, “adding life to years” rather than just years to life.

For further information, please contact:

Janet Seward
Partnership Manager, Business Development & Fundraising
Disabled Living Foundation
020 7289 6111 / 07765 241462

Andrew Gubbins
C.A.S Marketing
07771 800434
01491 578888

Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) is a national charity that has been providing expert and impartial advice on independent living for over 45 years. It recently merged with the leading disability charity, Shaw Trust.


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