Chris is Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer with a tally of 9 golds, 5 silvers and 1 bronze. He was also LOCOG’s Director of Paralympic Integration, responsible for the organisation of the 2012 Paralympic Games. A lifelong campaigner for equality and inclusion, Chris was appointed to the House of Lords in 2013 as the Lord Holmes of Richmond. Since then Chris has developed areas of expertise through his work on the Digital Skills and Social Mobility Select Committees and is active in debates on many issues. In 2015 Chris was appointed as Diversity Adviser to the Civil Service and also installed as Deputy Chancellor of BPP University, in addition, throughout 2016, Channel 4s Year of Disability, he will chair YODA (Year of Disability Advisers). Chris also sits on the Future Talent Steering Group which offers thought leadership on the future of work and how best to develop opportunities and skills for people and organisations in a changing world. He combines all these roles with his parliamentary work, a positions as non executive director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and various speaking, consultancy and charitable commitments.
As a boy Chris was a promising sportsman; on school teams for most sports and academically gifted with a distinct ambition to get to Cambridge University, by no means a normal next step from the Kidderminster Comprehensive he attended. At the age of 14 and completely unexpectedly Chris went blind overnight. His extraordinary courage and determination took him back into the pool, and just four years later to straight A’s for his A-levels and a place at Cambridge. At the end of his first year at Cambridge he won a record-breaking six gold medals at the Barcelona Paralympics.
In total Chris won nine gold medals, including the record six gold medals at a single Paralympics. He gained a string of World and European titles, broke 35 world records and was awarded an MBE for services to British sport at the age of 20. He was member of the Great Britain swimming team for seventeen years and captain for five.
After retiring from competitive swimming Chris worked as a journalist before qualifying and working as a commercial lawyer specialising in employment and pensions. He also took non-Executive Director roles at the Disability Rights Commission and UK Sport and was an Ambassador for the successful London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic bid.
In 2009 Chris was appointed Director of Paralympic Integration for London 2012. In this role, Chris drew on political skills, strategic know-how and his incredible determination to deliver the most successful Paralympics ever. It worked. London 2012 was the first games to have all sponsors signed to both Olympics and Paralympics, the first games to sell out all the stadia for every session and, incredibly, the first games to achieve worldwide television audiences in the hundreds of millions.
In recognition of Chris’s talents and contribution to the country he was invited by the Prime Minister to enter the House of Lords. Chris relishes this new political role and his experiences navigating the ancient corridors of power with guide dog Lottie offer numerous entertaining anecdotes. His priorities as a parliamentarian are digital skills, business, transport, education, employment, pensions, diversity and inclusion, sports, media and culture.
Since 2013 Chris also serves as non-executive director for the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Improving the equality and human rights legislative framework in the UK remains an important priority. Chris is supporter and patron of several charities including Duke of Edinburgh Awards, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Help for Heroes and Guide Dogs.