A FORMER Paralympian and disability campaigner from Stratford is ‘honoured’ to be a baton bearer for Birmingham 2022.
Former PC Elizabeth Dixon, who is founder of Accessible Stratford, will be part of the Queen’s Baton Relay in her hometown of Stratford on July 22 leading up to the UK Commonwealth Games.
She told The Observer: “I felt proud and humbled to be nominated and then selected. To have the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the city where I was born, is a dream come true and to play a small part of carrying the baton in Stratford is a huge honour.”
Next month the global sporting event will take place in Birmingham, the West Midlands and Warwickshire for the first time – with all of the lawn bowls, para-lawn bowls and cycling road races being held in Warwick and Leamington.
‘Inspirational’ baton bearers have been selected in all nine regions of England, and reflect the diversity in communities across the country each with incredible stories. They will each carry the baton for a section of the route.
Ms Dixon was seriously injured in a road traffic accident in 1986 while on duty with West Midlands Police, and retired from the force due to her injuries, but was encouraged to continue playing sport at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, competing in wheelchair bowls at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
She continued: “I became interested in bowls and as wheelchair bowls was still quite new, I played from a special wheelchair with wheels the size of grass rollers.
“Many clubs didn’t want them on their greens, although they allowed them indoors, but in time wheelchair bowls became accepted. Now we have para bowls as a recognised sport which is brilliant. To see the lawn bowls and the para lawn bowls are at Leamington is very special.”
Helen Peters, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s England, said: “We are hugely pleased that Elizabeth is being recognised in this way. She has the most incredible story and is a very inspiring figure within our community who positively challenges on improving accessibility for all.
“As a key Shakespeare’s England member she is always happy to assist fellow members with advice and guidance on accessibility issues to help with their inclusivity.
“Elizabeth has received a very special invitation by the chair of Bowls England Jon Cockcroft to a VIP day on August 1, which includes watching the evening lawn bowls and para lawn bowls sessions.”
Coun Matt Jennings, Stratford District Council’s Culture, Tourism and Leisure spokesperson, added: “Elizabeth is the founder of Accessible Stratford and is a Disability Advisor, who campaigns for local organisations and businesses to become more accessible for people with disabilities.
“As part of her work, Elizabeth produces information guides which highlight where and what accessible services are available in the town. She has worked with the local county, district and town councils on issues such as blue badge parking and writing accessibility statements. Elizabeth champions opportunities for all. The time and effort undertaken to complete this work is all done on a voluntary basis.”