Margaret Hickish, Network Rail’s access and inclusion manager, has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for services to disabled people.
A wheelchair user herself, Margaret has worked in the field of inclusive design for over twenty years, making a difference for tens of thousands of disabled people.
Since joining Network Rail in 2013 from the Olympic Delivery Authority, she has been an integral part of the diversity and inclusion team, challenging the company to think more deeply about the needs of disabled people and others using the railway. She set up its Built Environment Access Panel (BEAP), a group of inclusive design experts and disabled people from across the country, who provide advice to those designing stations or upgrading railway facilities to make sure that the fullest set of needs possible is taken into account.
Margaret said: “I am delighted to be recognised in this way, however the award belongs as much to all those colleagues and consultation groups’ members I have worked with to improve the understanding and delivery of inclusive design."
Mark Carne, Network Rail chief executive, said: “Over and above her role, Margaret has provided inspiration, encouragement and advice to colleagues who themselves have disabilities. Every day, she challenges all of us at Network Rail to improve railway journeys for those with disabilities so that everyone can travel equally, confidently and independently.
“She has made an enormous difference for tens of thousands of disabled people throughout her career. We are extremely lucky to have such a dedicated person helping us to deliver our Railway Upgrade Plan. I’d like to congratulate Margaret on behalf of everyone at Network Rail for a truly deserved honour.”
Margaret is no stranger to success. In 2014, she was voted the most influential disabled woman and third most influential disabled person by the Disability News Service in the category of Equality, Consultancy and Access. She was also included in the Power 100 List 2015 of people with a disability or impairment.
Before joining Network Rail, Margaret worked for the Olympic Delivery Authority from 2007 to 2012 as principal access officer, leading the way in helping establish the inclusive design standards and strategy for the Games. This meant each and every venue and facility was created considering all aspects of its use both by competitors, whether Paralympians or elite Olympic athletes, and by those spectators who either had a disability themselves or spoke English as a second language. This had a substantial impact on the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games as the most inclusive and accessible Games ever.
A wheelchair user herself, she made the concept of creating accessible facilities easy to understand for all those delivering the Games, and worked with the architects and designers early in the process so they built adaptability and accessibility into the design and use of buildings at an early stage, helped by her engineering background. She even went above and beyond her role to inspire panels of disabled people to get involved themselves; commenting on and testing the designs and materials, holding the ODA to account for the breadth of usage of the buildings and generally acting as critical friends for the Games as a whole.
She is a member of the Paralympic Legacy Advisory Group and a board member of the Built Environment Professional Education project which aims to make inclusive design an important part of education and training for all built environment professionals and received an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Art in 2014 for her contribution to inclusive design.
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