A TUTOR helping to break down the barriers for people with disabilities has been honoured by Huddersfield University.
Richard Smith has cerebral palsy, but that has not stopped him working full time and teaching students.
His work at the university has now earned him a honorary doctorate in civil law after his name was put forward by staff in the social work department.
Mr Smith, 45, said it was important for people living with any form of disability to get the most out of life.
He said: “I hope I can show people that people with impairments can achieve anything.
“The people here don’t see me as disabled.
“For the last eight years I’ve taken direct payments and employed my own PAs, carers. It has given me more freedom to do what I want.”
Mr Smith works in disability quality training and also interviews potential students. He works in direct payments and is also about to begin work in the physio and nursing departments.
He says he hopes he can break down the barriers and demonstrate that people with disabilities can achieve anything.
He added: “I like educating people and letting people know about people who have impairments. The one thing I’ll say is that everyone has some sort of disability. Some people wear glasses, some struggle to hear.
“I just want to enjoy life and to be accepted.”
Richard gave a speech at Huddersfield Town Hall as he collected his honorary doctorate.
In it he said that his work over the last 15-20 years been to bring disability equality within society.
A former pupil of Hollybank School when it was based at Lindley, he gets about in a wheelchair and is assisted by his PA Leona Bennett-Gibson, who he described as “fantastic”.
He spent 18 years studying at Huddersfield Technical College and is also a volunteer for the cerebral palsy charity Scope.
Mr Smith attended a dinner at the university with chancellor Patrick Stewart.
He added: “I’ve never met him before. He’s a nice guy and he was very keen to know about my work here.
“He is very dedicated to the university.”
Later in the week the university is hosting a party for 100 of his closest friends, colleagues and former school teachers to mark his achievement.
Sue Bernhauser, dean of human and health sciences, said: “Richard’s work here has been outstanding.
“He really does help break down the barriers and show us all that people with impairments can achieve so much.
“The students here learn so much from him. It’s important that our future social workers can get the understanding they do from him.”