William Ogden, a Mary Hare Alumni, has recently been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM), in recognition of the impact he has made to the lives of people in the local community. We caught up with William, who shared with us what he has been up to since he left Mary Hare, and his experience of receiving this very special award.
My name is William Ogden, I currently work at a University as an Academic Affairs Senior-Coordinator. In my role, I support students with disabilities, mental health, learning differences and dyslexia to ensure they receive the relevant support to access their education - especially when they go through unforeseeable changes. During the peak of the pandemic, my job role was in such huge demand, I have spent many hours listening and advising anxious students online as they speak about the impact of COVID-19, as we slowly navigate ourselves through a new era of lockdowns into a post pandemic society.
I received the news that I am to be awarded a BEM for my ‘hands-on’ service that has made a significant difference to the lives of people in the local community. As someone who is profoundly deaf and partially blind, a person who has always, using personal experience, wanted to make a positive difference through my professional work and volunteering, I was lost for words. To be recognised and honoured by our late, Her Majesty, The Queen, for my services to the Education and Accessibility sector, during her 70 years reign is just staggering.
Alongside my career at University, I also volunteer, cooperate and advise a variety of different organisations, recommending positive working practices to be reflected and put in place to embrace the diverse and inclusive world we live in today. I have also recently returned from Barbados; my first working holiday, as a Trustee Director of Decibels Charity, I was fortunate enough to have been invited to participate behind the scenes in the lead up to the Deaf Calypso Project's concert held at the Frank Collymore Hall, which was led by the brilliant Audiovisability. The concert was the first ever to have held talented deaf and hearing musicians, artists, film makers, and writers to name but a few, all to raise awareness of deaf people's needs in Barbados. It is always deeply gratifying to receive updates from organisations thanking me for my input as they implement the new approaches.
I’ve also been very fortunate to have written articles sharing my experiences, for many media outlets, from The Sunday Times, BBC Education, Microsoft (X-Box), The Guardian, Channel 4 and Time Out to name but a few.
Typically, I wouldn’t usually share what I do, as some people that know me well will agree, I am too modest to speak up about my achievements, but I am learning to take more pride in the work that I have done thus far. Nevertheless, unbeknownst to me, my name was put forward by three separate anonymous parties to be considered to receive this award and here I am!
I've learnt since receiving this award, I think I have been allocated to take on the role of an advocator, working silently in the background, to ensure that everyone else has equal access and that everyone should embrace their own barriers.
And on that note, long may my journey to help others continue but there is still a lot more work to be done.