After his role in transforming the lives of young and newly disabled people, Martin McElhatton, the Chief Executive of WheelPower, has been awarded an OBE for ‘Services to Disability Sport’ in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Martin joined WheelPower in 1987 and has been leading the organisation for the past 22 years. He has played a key role in developing the work of WheelPower, the National Charity for Wheelchair Sport and helping those with a disability.

He said: “It is a huge honour to receive an OBE and I am so proud of the work we have achieved here at WheelPower to give thousands of disabled people the joy of playing sport and seeing how it can positively impact their lives. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout the last 30 plus years including my family, friends, colleagues and all the amazing people who have let me be part of their sporting journey.”

After a road traffic accident left Martin paralysed in 1979, he underwent rehabilitation at the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville, then took up wheelchair basketball. He played in the 1984 Paralympic Games, the 1986 World Championships and 1987 European Championships.

Director of The Active Hands Company, Rob Smith, was also included by the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. Rob was recognised for his services to international business and disability, and has been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Rob said: “The news of this award took me completely by surprise. Unknown to me, things had been going on behind the scenes for some time before I received a letter from the cabinet office informing me of the news in mid November. I am surprised, yet hugely honoured, to be included in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for 2020.

“I have always loved what I do for Active Hands and the other projects I have been involved in, yet I have always done these things for my own enjoyment and interest.”

A member of the Royal family will award Rob his MBE later in the year.

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