British Empire Medal for 21-year-old who climbed Three Peaks and did Great North Run
Sat 28 Dec 2019 01.00 EST
He has climbed the Three Peaks, skydived from 15,000 feet and fulfilled his dream of studying law at university. At 21, Jack Marshall’s advocacy for disabled people is carried out by leading from the front.
Now he has been recognised in the new year honours for his energetic campaigning for disability rights, in a list which sees a sharp increase in the number of disabled people receiving awards, from 5.9% last year to 11% – 120 out of 1,097 recipients.
Marshall, from Belton, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, was born with Moebius syndrome, a rare condition that affects only one in 2 million people. It has left him with no facial nerves, so he cannot smile, and as a result of a reduced-sized cerebellum, he cannot walk down the street without help and is unable to button up his shirt or tie his laces.
“I have been doing charity work and advocating for disabled people for 12 years now,” said Marshall. “I do it because if people can see me doing these things then they might do them too. Just because someone is disabled doesn’t mean they are unable to do things.
“I’ve got a catchphrase: ‘I am not disabled, I am unique.’ That’s how I live my life.”
Marshall received a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the honours. Among his campaigning he persuaded his MP, Andrew Percy, to travel round the town of Brigg in a wheelchair to see how inaccessible services were for disabled people and he has lobbied at the House of Commons.
“I’ve skydived from 15,000 feet, I’ve taken part in the Great Manchester Run and the Great North Run and I’ve climbed the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales.
“It’s great that more disabled people are being honoured this time,” he said. “It can only be a good thing, and I hope it represents the future.”
In the last 18 months, Marshall said, his campaigning work has taken second place to fulfilling his dream of getting a place at university to study law.
Now about to start his second term at Staffordshire University in Stoke, he said he was ready to take up his campaigning again. “I am loving the course and I am loving university. But now I am settled in, it’s time for me to get back in the saddle raising money for many charities. 2020 is going to be a big year and I am really excited about all the things ahead.”