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Cambridge campaigner ‘left a legacy that I know a lot of people will feel forever’ says Ken Bruce

Elspeth was a Speak Out leader in Cambridgeshire for VoiceAbility for 9 years

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A Cambridge woman who made autistic people across Cambridgeshire feel included and heard has been recognised at a national awards ceremony – with DJ Ken Bruce leading the tributes. The life of Elspeth Jones was celebrated at the 2024 Dimensions Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List Awards, following her death in November last year at the age of 32.

Awards host Ken – of BBC Radio 2 and Greatest Hits Radio fame – said: “I just want to take a moment to remember Elspeth, who passed away recently. Elspeth left a legacy that I know a lot of people will feel forever.

“Part of VoiceAbility’s Speak Out team, Elspeth’s campaigning work went way beyond the professional. She always made everyone feel included.

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“We all just want to say a big thank you to Elspeth.”

Speak Out leader Bill Jones pictured next to an exhibition at the awards which paid tribute to his sister Elspeth. Photo credit: VoiceAbility

Speak Out leader Bill Jones pictured next to an exhibition at the awards which paid tribute to his sister Elspeth. Photo credit: VoiceAbilityElspeth worked as a Speak Out leader in Cambridgeshire for voice and rights charity VoiceAbility for nine years.

She described herself as someone who used her lived experience of Asperger’s syndrome to talk with autistic people, listen to their experiences, and share issues with professionals who could help change things for the better.

Her colleagues, which include her brother and fellow Speak Out leader Bill Jones, put together an awards nomination in Elspeth’s memory to highlight what a fantastic self-advocate she was and all the wonderful work she did.

Elspeth’s mum Maggie, brother Bill and VoiceAbility colleague Kate Bunting were then invited to the awards ceremony at The O2’s Cineworld in London, where there was an exhibition paying tribute to Elspeth.

Elspeth’s mum, Maggie, said: “I remember having a conversation with Elspeth a few years ago when life seemed hopeless to her. I asked what she would like to achieve in her life – she said to make a difference. She did it!

“We are bursting with pride. And VoiceAbility’s support of her was and is immense!”

Speak Out leader Bill Jones at the awards which paid tribute to his sister Elspeth. Photo credit: VoiceAbility

Speak Out leader Bill Jones at the awards which paid tribute to his sister Elspeth. Photo credit: VoiceAbility

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Kate, a VoiceAbility Speak Out facilitator in Cambridgeshire, added: “For me it was a reminder that, although Elspeth is no longer with us, her wonderful work, and the messages she needed people to hear, about listening to and working in the right way with autistic people, continue.

“Elspeth and I worked closely together, and I am so grateful that my job with Speak Out let me be a part of supporting her to share those powerful messages.

“The Dimensions awards are a wonderful way of recognising all the fantastic work that autistic people and people with learning disabilities are doing across the country to change things for the better, and it was such an honour to be there for Elspeth.”

For more information about VoiceAbility’s Speak Out Cambridgeshire group, a voice for people in the county who are autistic or who have a learning disability, visit voiceability.org/speak-out-cambridgeshire.

The life and work of Elspeth Jones, who was a Speak Out leader in Cambridgeshire for voice and rights charity VoiceAbility, was celebrated at this year’s Dimensions Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List Awards. Photo credit: VoiceAbility

The life and work of Elspeth Jones, who was a Speak Out leader in Cambridgeshire for voice and rights charity VoiceAbility, was celebrated at this year’s Dimensions Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List Awards. Photo credit: VoiceAbility

FACT FILE

Voice Ability says:

  • We say autistic person, not person with autism, as most autistic people prefer this, as it reflects that autism can be a positive core part of who you are rather than something to distance yourself from
  • We say disabled person, not person with disabilities, to show it is society that disables the person (this idea is called ‘the social model of disability’). However, ‘learning disabled’ is not a word so we say ‘person with learning disabilitie
  • Speak Out is part of VoiceAbility’s wider Connections services which are all about ensuring that the voices of people we work with are really heard so that their rights are upheld, and they can make a difference to the services that affect them. By employing and working with people who have similar experiences, we empower them to advocate for themselves and support others to speak out about the things that are important to them 
  • The 2024 Dimensions Learning Disability and Autism Leaders List Awards ceremony was held on 24 April. You can read more about the night on Dimensions’ website
  • A tribute to Elspeth can also be found on Dimensions’ website

 About VoiceAbility

VoiceAbility is a voice and rights charity and one of the largest providers of independent advocacy and involvement services across the UK. VoiceAbility has supported people to have their voices heard and rights upheld for over 40 years.

Find out more about VoiceAbility and how we support people across the UK at voiceability.org.

 

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