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60 Stories - Andrew Doyle OBE

Andrew Doyle (55) has travelled across Europe throughout his involvement with ENABLE Scotland.
Having moved to Annan in the late 1980s, Andrew began attending the committee meetings of his local ENABLE Scotland branch.  It was there he became interested in the organisation’s work to help transform the lives of people with learning disabilities.
“I didn’t do much in those days at the meetings, other than listen to what people where talking about and learn about what was happening,” said Andrew.
But it didn’t take long for Andrew to do more than listen.  He soon became the chairperson of ENABLE Scotland’s ACE committee and was then nominated by the committee to represent them in the European organisation, ‘Inclusion Europe’.  
Whilst attending a meeting in Brussels with ‘Inclusion Europe’ in 2007, Andrew heard about self advocacy committee the European Platform for Self Advocates (EPS).  
“I was asked to put my name forward for the ESPA chairperson election and had to make a speech. Following a vote, I was elected,” explained Andrew. 
Andrew helped EPSA devise a three-year plan which included engaging more European countries in the committee.  
He continued: “Some countries’ human rights were lacking, so we had to take action.”
So began Andrew’s travels in Latvia, Lithuania and Hungary where he and others helped people with learning disabilities and their families establish self advocacy groups.
“We trained people how to form their own committees to talk to their own countries’ governments. It was quite challenging sometimes because it involved a lot of travelling, but the people I met were very nice.  They were poor but they did look after people with learning difficulties maybe a bit better than some of the richer countries,” said Andrew.  
He was also involved with a project to help make voting in Europe more accessible for people with learning disabilities and another initiative which produced European standards for easy to read text and information. 
Due to all his hard work in raising awareness of issues faced by people with learning disabilities, Andrew was awarded an MBE in 2007. 
He travelled to Buckingham Palace to receive his award and tell the Queen about his work in Europe.
Following the ceremony, Andrew and his family and friends planned to celebrate in style at The Ritz. 
“When we arrived, they told us we had to book two months in advance,” said an astonished Andrew.
“Imagine waiting two months for a sandwich!”
A true inspiration, Andrew was nominated to carry the Olympic torch through Gretna in 2012.
He still attends the meetings of his local ENABLE Scotland branch and volunteers at his local disability sports group.
In August 2013, Andrew competed in the Special Olympics in Bath where he played football. The avid sports enthusiast also competed in the athletics in the 2009 Special Olympics and won two gold medals.  
Andrew continues to speak up for people with learning disabilities and has addressed a Scottish parliament committee about recent changes to the benefits system.
“I have been involved in so many projects in the last 20 years.  It’s been great and I like trying to make a difference.”

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