Chris was honoured to be installed as Deputy Chancellor of BPP University. He is a former law student of the university and was at London’s prestigious Guildhall venue on 13th May 2016 to receive the honour during the university’s graduation ceremony. Speaking on the power of higher education, Chris said he was “honoured” to be the university’s new figurehead and “delighted to play my small part in the on-going success at BPP as the University goes from strength to strength, producing excellent graduates across the professions who will go on to make such a positive contribution to our country.” Chris gained a post graduate diploma in law (PGDL) whilst at BPP University’s Law School and in 2002 he completed the Legal Practice Course.
Chris was at one point a lawyer specialising in pensions and was delighted to write a foreword for Michael Johnson’s excellent report for the Centre for Policy Studies, ‘Auto-protection at 55’, which considers the future of pensions and in particular the need for ‘auto-protection’ to address the dangers of ‘auto-enrolment’. Chris’s time as a pensions lawyer informs his interest in this major policy area and he was happy to endorse the report’s central theme of how to make annuity liberalisation safe. The report makes many sensible recommendations including a not for profit national annuities auction house to automate the process of shopping around. Chris feels there is clearly value in a default system for pension protection while challenging the market to produce a still better service for clients and this report is an excellent start in that direction.
Chris knows, from his own personal experience, all about the opportunity that sport can provide for people and its unique power to transform lives and inspire others. The fact is that some groups, particularly women and girls, Asians, Muslims and disabled people, have disproportionately low rates of participation in sport – as players, spectators, volunteers, officials and employees. The Equality and Human Rights Commission receives money from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to promote inclusion in sport. This funding is allocated to grassroots initiatives administered through organisations like Premiership Rugby . Another partnership with the England & Wales Cricket Board is expected to be announced soon. The funds are also being used to improve access to stadia for disabled people. Discussions have been held with the Premier League and given the windfall the Premier League has just enjoyed, Chris believes “it would be scandalous if clubs don’t do more to improve access for disabled fans.”
Chris is delighted to announce a new role as spokesperson for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women. The charity was founded on 29 January 1951, to provide support and services to blinded World War I veterans. Exactly 100 years on from its foundation, a specially commissioned survey into public attitudes has found a “major positive shift” in the public’s perception of blindness. 65% of the general public have indicated that if they were to lose their sight, it would not mean that their “lives were as good as over”. Chris is pleased with the survey’s findings and observes that “the amazing stories of blind veterans supported by the charity show that its support can make a life-changing difference and can spur people on to do inspirational things, contrary to any negative views about blindness limiting a person’s ability.” Watch Chris’s birthday message to Blind Veterans UK.
Chris spoke at a conference organised by Demos that was focussed on exploring how policy can build character. The particular question Chris considered was whether sport, art and extra-curricular activity build character? This is an important area and one Chris feels passionately about.
Chris being interviewed about new technology to help visually impaired people.
Chris took part in a trial of an amazing new device, currently at prototype stage, that equips blind people with extra tools and information when navigating city centres, including accessing public transport.
Speaking on Radio 5 live Chris described the headset as “your navigator, personal guide, transport information, local historian, all the (information about) shopping stuff… It’s absolutely incredible. And it’s the confidence it gives you. It was the first time I had done that route and it just felt so comfortable.”
The technology – developed by Microsoft, Guide Dogs and the UK government’s Future Cities Catapult – takes the form of a smart headset paired with a Windows Phone app, which has been designed for people with sight loss.
The headset is a modified pair of headphones, which hooks over the wearer’s ears and rests on their jaw bone, transmitting sound to their inner ear using vibrations. This means that the wearer can hear sound from the headphones and from their environment simultaneously.
Microsoft has added a small 3D-printed box on the back of the headset containing an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a compass, as well as a GPS chip, so that the user’s position can be tracked.
Click here for further media coverage of the device…
For the first time since participating in the Seoul Games in 1988, Chris travelled back to Korea to give the keynote speech at the 2014 Inclusive Sport and Society Forum. The Forum was organised by the Korean Paralympic Committee just ahead of the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games and was attended by UN Special Advisor on Sport, Wilfried Lemke, and International Paralympic Committee President, Sir Philip Craven. Themes developed at the conference were the integration of disabled and non-disabled sports and social inclusion through sports.