Hundreds of people attended a special event held by Thames Water to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities yesterday.
The celebration at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Reading, was used to raise awareness of issues faced by disabled people, and to help empower those who have disabilities.
Several charities who help the disabled attended, including Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Berkshire MS Therapy Centre, BLESMA and the Red Cross, with stalls organised to allow guests to experience what it’s like being disabled.
Opening the event, Thames Water’s strategic planning and investment director, Sarah McMath, spoke about the company’s initiatives and commitment to ensure an inclusive culture for all staff, as well as its plans to increase its priority services register seven-fold to more than 400,000 people by 2025.
Ian Marchant, Thames Water chairman, said: “It’s really encouraging to be here today and see so many people engaging with the issues of disabilities.
“Many of us are affected by disability, either directly or through family members and friends, and thinking about what it means in a work context is really important.”
Key-note speaker, blind para tri-athlete, Haseeb Ahmad, told his inspirational story of losing his sight at the age of 10 and overcoming challenges to set a world-record for the fastest Blind Ironman race.
During the day, a cheque for £4,157, raised by Thames Water staff, was also presented to the Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Charity events including a ‘Dining in the Dark’ experience and a competition to name a guide dog, helped to raise the funds to support the charity.