Sometimes there are people who can make a real impact because of their celebrity status, but, as you’ll find out in this short piece, Brian Rix was so much more than a concerned celebrity. He helped change perceptions – indeed, he actively devoted himself to doing so.
Brian was a comic actor. During the 1950s and 60s he starred in more than 90 ‘farcical comedies’ alongside some of the great comic actors of the age. However, Brian wasn’t content with just being a figure of fun.
Brian’s daughter Shelley had a learning disability – Down’s syndrome. During the 1970s he saw that perceptions of people with learning disabilities were often not as positive as they could be.
However, Brian challenged this. In the 1970s he presented a programme called ‘Let’s Go!’. It was aimed to highlight the potential of people with learning disabilities, showing that they can achieve a huge amount.
In 1980 Brian became the General Secretary of the charity Mencap. In this role he campaigned tirelessly for people with learning disabilities. He championed the idea – radical at the time – that people with learning disabilities have a full role to play in society and can achieve a huge amount. Initiatives such as supported independent living were championed by Brian.
The work of Charities and Social Enterprises such as Space Inclusive owe a huge amount to the pioneers of learning disability campaigning. Brian Rix really was a pioneer. It isn’t just Mencap – the charity he became President of – that’ll miss him but the wider community as a whole. Thank you, Brian, rest in peace.