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Inspiring Stephen Hawking speech at Jack Ashley memorial event

14 March 2018

Disabled people can do anything if they have a fierce will to succeed

Hear Stephen Hawking's speech

Speech transcript

This was the key message delivered by Professor Stephen Hawking in his address to the 4th annual Jack Ashley Memorial Lecture that took place on 11th October 2017.  The event, organised by DR UK, was held at Nesta in London and sponsored by Wey Education.

Professor Hawking outlined how his life had changed and developed after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.  Twice he had been advised to go home and die.  On the last occasion, he had simply decided to change his doctor.  He had been lucky.  He had challenged the medical profession but often they had come to his aid.

He went on to talk about the NHS.  He reiterated the criticism of the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, he and Professor Winston and Professor Moedee had made in a letter published in the Guardian.  You cannot cherry pick scientific evidence to justify policy positions, in this case 7 day NHS working.

It was his contention that ‘the more profit is extracted from the system (NHS), the more private monopolies grow, and the more expensive health care becomes.’  The NHS is not only the most human system, and the one supported by the general public, it is also the most efficient system.

Finally, he stated he had plans for the future including publishing scientific papers and international travel.  He also wanted to continue to campaign for the disability community.  He acknowledged that his fame protected him from many of the indignities disabled people face but said that disabled jpeople can do anything if they have a will to succeed.

Afterwards Andrew Marr chaired a discussion of the points raised.

Our Deputy Chief Executive also gave a short speech at the event.  In it she reminded everyone that the human and disability rights agenda was more important than ever particularly given the recent conclusion of the committee on the UNCRPD that the UK was no longer the leader in disability rights.

Jane Ashley concluded the evening thanking everyone for coming and looking forward to next year.

Nesta, Disability Rights UK and Wey Education