The late Past Master of the ‘Wheelwrights’ Richard Sermon MBE and Sheriff of the City of London in 2010 came up with the idea for an award honouring liveryman Sir Bert Massie. Sir Bert died in October 2017 and was a leading light in the fight for improved rights and better quality of life for disabled people.
The first recipient of the Award in 2020 was Baroness Jane Campbell DBE. She was part of the panel that considered recipients for this year’s Award, along with other members of the panel Bob Niven CBE, Liz Sayce OBE and Past Master of the Wheelwrights David Mortlock.
Sir Bert Massie Award 2023 – Phil Friend
It was with great pleasure that at Mansion House on 11 May 2023, the Master Wheelwright, Nigel Biggs presented The Sir Bert Massie Award for 2023 to Phil Friend OBE. He can be seen here receiving the award and the framed certificate for his exceptional contribution to furthering the equality and integration of disabled people in our communities and the improvement of their lives.
The award was given to Phil in recognition of a lifetime of achievement in the disability field.
Phil had made a tangible impact on the business community, including leading international companies and UK public bodies through his pioneering work disseminating good practice on ensuring access and inclusion for disabled people concerning jobs, careers, products and services. Phil was also a notable Chairman of Disability Rights UK (2005 – 2015), a pan-disability charity that represented the voice of all disabled people nationally; a charity once transformed by the late Sir Bert Massie, it’s first disabled CEO, who played an instrumental role in Parliament negotiating the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act. Phil was influential in progressing the reforms and innovations started by Sir Bert, including uncompromising self-advocacy projects, Independent Living, access to employment and public services for all. He had also given practical advice to people in managing rather than just coping with their disability through the books he has published (e.g. ‘Why are you pretending to be normal’). Lastly for the massive amount of time he had given pro bono to support people.
Earlier that day, at a special Court Meeting, Phil was made a Freeman of the Company