Martin McElhatton WheelPower OBE

WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, has confirmed that its CEO Martin McElhatton has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Based in Stoke Mandeville, the home of the Paralympic movement, WheelPower has been providing opportunities for people with physical impairments to take part in sport for nearly 70 years, supporting over 62,099 disabled people annually.

Having worked for the disabled sports charity for more than three decades, playing a key role in developing the work of the organisation which transforms the lives of young and newly disabled people through sport and its facilities, Martin was awarded the OBE for ‘Services to Disability Sport.’

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After being paralysed in a road traffic accident in 1979 and undergoing his rehabilitation at the National Spinal Injuries Centre in Stoke Mandeville, Martin took up wheelchair basketball, initially at club level and then progressing to play for Great Britain in the 1984 Paralympic Games, 1986 World Championships and 1987 European Championships.

In 1987, Martin joined WheelPower and has been leading the organisation for the past 22 years.

Rob Wilson, Chair of WheelPower, commented: “Everyone at WheelPower is absolutely delighted and thrilled for Martin.  He fully deserves the recognition he is getting for 30 years of dedication and service to disability sport. In those many years of service, Martin has been a key figure in transforming the lives of so many young and newly disabled people, knowing first-hand what they are going through and how sport can make a difference and lift people up again.”

Alongside his work with WheelPower, he was also involved in the growth and development of wheelchair tennis nationally and internationally, as a player, coach and administrator, serving as President of the International Wheelchair Tennis Association from 1987-2013, as well as Chairman of the National Wheelchair Tennis Association of Great Britain for over 35 years.

In addition, Martin helped establish the National Paralympic Heritage Trust, of which he is a Trustee, and has also been instrumental in delivering the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville every two years since London 2012.

“It is a huge honour to receive an OBE and I am so proud of the work we have achieved here at WheelPower to give thousands of disabled people the joy of playing sport and seeing how it can positively impact their lives,” commented Martin.

“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout the last 30 plus years including my family, friends, colleagues and all the amazing people who have let me be part of their sporting journey.”

The Queen’s New Year’s Honours List 2020 has seen a number of individuals operating within the mobility and disability community recognised for their work and achievements, including The Active Hands Company’s founder Rob Smith and Stroke Association’s CEO Juliet Bouverie.

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