Sculptor whose work graced Paralympics honoured for disability campaigning
PUBLISHED: 13:00 22 June 2013
A sculptor and charity chief whose work featured in the Paralympic opening ceremony has been handed an OBE after four decades of campaigning for disability rights.
Tony Heaton, chief executive of Kentish Town-based charity Shape Arts, was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to the arts and the disability arts movement.
The Belsize Park resident, of Belsize Avenue, said: “I thought the letter was off the taxman at first and I completely ignored it.
“When I read it, I was amazed and I think I’m still a bit shell-shocked about it. You always think other people get these sort of things.”
The charity Mr Heaton has led for the past six years, which is based in Greenwood Place, promotes arts for disabled people.
“The thrust of it to encourage disabled people to take active part in the arts, either as artists or consumers of culture,” Mr Heaton said.
“To do that, we work with big cultural institutions to make sure they are accessible and to help train their staff – places like the Royal Opera House, the National Theatre and the Roundhouse.”
He is also a renowned sculptor whose work Great Britain from a Wheelchair was used as a lectern for Lord Coe at the Paralympic opening ceremony.
He also fashioned the 50ft-high Big 4 piece outside Channel 4’s headquarters and produced the largest piece of disability art permanently sited in the public realm anywhere in the world.
His work Squarinthecircle? is located outside the school of architecture at Portsmouth University.
Leading music maestro John Gilhooly has also been honoured with an OBE.
The director of Wigmore Hall and chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society, who lives in Camden Road, Kentish Town, works with young people to give them the push that they need towards becoming established and distinguished musicians.
The 39-year-old said: “I didn’t believe it until my secretary told me the Ham&High had got in touch. I got the letter in the post and didn’t think about it. But it must be real now!
“It’s an acknowledgement of my hard work and that I love what I do. This honour isn’t for me, it’s for the music that we are able to give to people from the world’s greatest artists.”
Another honour went to the chief executive of a company providing training skills for everyone from apprentices to company directors, in her case being made a CBE.
Dinah Caine, chief executive of Creative Skillset, received the honour for services to the creative industries, having already been made an OBE for services to the media industries in 2002.
Ms Caine, who lives in Torriano Avenue in Kentish Town, said: “I’m absolutely delighted and very overwhelmed.
“It’s a recognition of the creative industries and the work of our organisation, which is all to do with providing skills.”
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