Suarez honoured with LDSA award
Luis Suarez was named player of the season by the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association at a gala dinner at Anfield.
Members of the LDSA voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Uruguayan for their annual honour, with Suarez receiving the vast majority.
"It's incredible because these people are unbelievable - when we play in the match and when we score, they are so happy," Suarez told LFC TV after collecting the prize.
The 26-year-old had previously spent more than an hour greeting supporters, signing Liverpool memorabilia and posing for photographs with excited members.
He added: "When I see children or the family, it's a good time to take a picture or signature. For me, it's no problem because they are happy and I am happy also."
As well as presenting Suarez with his accolade, youngster Joe Baxter also handed over the LDSA presidency for 2013 to former Reds striker David Fairclough.
Fairclough said: "I'm very flattered - it is very humbling to be awarded the honour by such a group of Liverpool fans. It has been very pleasant and obviously one or two remember me playing, which is even better."
The evening was attended by more than a hundred LDSA members, who shared a meal after meeting Suarez. Signed shirts and LFC memorabilia were later raffled to raise money.
Among those to meet Suarez at Anfield's Reds Lounge was Ashley Taylor, who said: "It was very good, I was a bit star-struck but I'm glad I met him. It was brilliant.
"He was really good to give my other half's stepdad a message to say 'get well soon' - he has cancer - which was really good of him.
"It's very important because people like my uncle Derek come all the time and if it wasn't for things like this he wouldn't come out. It's good for the players to come out and give their time and support."
Colin McCall, LFC's disability liaison officer, added: "To have someone as esteemed as Luis Suarez coming to collect his trophy, interacting with the fans, it's absolutely fantastic.
"This is something that they will never ever forget, meeting their idols. He was very humbling in the way he interacted - he was an absolute credit to the club.
"When we took the forms back in, he took 94 per cent of the vote - it was pretty much a landslide."
Thank you, LFC
I would like to thank everyone at LFC for giving my daughter Neve the amazing experience she had as LFC mascot for the recent West Brom home game - especially Julia Scott for making Neve so welcome, helping her prepare for her big night and for calming my nerves!
Also, I'd like to thank Brendan Rodgers and all the players who said some lovely words to us and Neve - particularly Stevie Gerrard and Jamie Carragher who were giggling away to her in the tunnel (whatever she said...I dread to think!) and for making her so relaxed for such a big occasion.
I can't describe how proud I was watching her walk onto my beloved Anfield punching the air whilst holding Stevie G's hand like she had done this on a regular basis before.
Neve is Downs Syndrome and has been attending all the home games with me for the last three years. To see the development in Neve from a shy but cheeky little girl who was frightened and embarrassed when entering a room to the confident young girl walking out in front of 45,000 supporters who interacts with everyone at the ground and at the great LDSA parties - and is known by everyone like a bad penny because of her infectious personality - is an absolute joy to me as her dad.
Neve's progression is largely down to her very strong and supportive family and her 1:1 support at school, but I have personally seen huge improvement in her speech/language, social and life skills due to her continuing experiences of going the match!
This is due to the kind and friendly manner in which Neve is treated and welcomed by all your LFC staff from acquiring our tickets with Debbie, Leigh and Abbey and then on match days with all your stewards and stewardesses. Neve has a fantastic rapport with them all and is treated like one of their own family members.
So once again thank you all at LFC for making her night so special. As a lifelong fan who has watched LFC's successes and trophy hauls home and away for 30 plus years, none of that will ever come close to the night my fab daughter walked onto the Anfield pitch as mascot. A huge milestone for Neve beyond belief!
Finally, a massive thank you to Colin McCall and Bev Roberts for starting the process and for the fantastic job you both do for the LDSA and for raising the profile and flying the flag for disability awareness within our local community.
PROUD DAD. John Sheridan.
Hot pot supper
A further event has been arranged to help us celebrate our 10th anniversary. A hot pot supper on September 20, 2013 has been arranged to also celebrate Bill Shankly's 100th birthday. Presented by John Keith, with Ian St John and comedian impressionist Darren Farley entertaining us for the evening
Please note that a new LDSA membership form is available with an updated privacy statement. Please use this for all future renewals or first time applications.
Your contact details
Please ensure you have given the LDSA your latest up to date contact details, especially email addresses. For those wanting email contact for all communication and not by letter, this is essential. Addresses that are incorrect will result in disappointment for the member concerned.
Committee member Steve Evans is representing not only himself but the LDSA when, from May 22 until May 26, 2013, he will be at Wembley and in the London area as a TV VIP Transport Coordinator for the Champions League final. Steve as most of you will know, currently hosts functions for the LDSA.
The committee would like to go on record and thank their member Ian Pickett for his devotion and hard work as membership secretary. Ian spends many hours updating and renewing your LDSA membership. He is also responsible for sending out your first time package or renewal with gift.
With regard the club's recent statement about ticket pricing restructuring. I can confirm that the LDSA committee has voiced its concern for members, by sending an official letter to the club. Liverpool Football Club have invited LDSA committee members to a club update on accessibility/disability matters in which the above will be discussed.
Alan Martin, RIP
Mouse on the Move - June 4, 1963 to December 16, 2012.
On December 16, the inclusive dance worker and human rights activist Alan Martin passed away at his home following a tragic accident. Alan had a truly amazing life, and motivated, educated and inspired all those he knew and worked with. This is a great loss to his family, friends, staff, colleagues and clients.
Alan was adamant that having cerebral palsy was the very least interesting thing about him. If he wrote this himself he wouldn't even include that fact. Some people may think that a man who had such a significant disability was remarkable in achieving so much in his life, but he didn't think that about himself.
Alan was born in Liverpool and one of his ambitions was to have a communication aid with a Scouse voice. Liverpool Football Club was like a religion to him, or so he said. Just a few days before his death he attended the disabled supporters Christmas dinner, where he danced and joked, drank Southern Comfort, and flirted with other supporters. He had attended the 2011 Christmas dinner, and also the 2012 start of season dinner.
As a child, Alan attended matches with his father. His home was full of LFC furnishings and memorabilia, bed covers, curtains, cushions, pictures, scarves, shirts and posters. His walls were never big enough to display all his photos. Alan loved everything about Liverpool, and although living on the Wirral, dearly wished to move back across the water.
Seeing the person first before their disability was at the heart of all Alan did and he did a LOT!
Aged 31, Alan was given his first electronic speech aid by local dear friends. This totally transformed his life. In the 18 years since then he dedicated all his work to raising awareness of the life-changing effect of having a voice for all those people without natural speech.
He had a wide range of interests, including fishing, rock music, gardening, wildlife conservation, motor cycles, CB radio, cats (big cats and small cats!) and electronic music writing. Creative dance was his real passion which eventually led to Alan setting up his own business as a creative, contemporary dance practitioner and disability issues trainer. He was very proud of earning his living from this and worked with hundreds of organisations across the country.
Soon after becoming self-employed Alan was offered a part in the BBC comedy/drama 'I'm With Stupid'. Other actors in this series were Mark Benton, Ruth Jones, Steve Edge, Cherylee Houston, Kevin Davies, Paul Henshall and Laurence Clarke. The series was co-written by a man who had cerebral palsy and was intended to change attitudes to disability through humour. During script read through, the disabled cast were able to comment on any aspects that they felt were not right, or not PC, and have changes made. Alan appeared in the pilot episode and six-part series in 2005 and was very proud of being part of this ground-breaking production.
Alan was not a great fan of some disability organisations as he felt that they promoted segregation rather than the full inclusion in which he believed. He was chairman of West Kirby PHAB Club for many years and actively encouraged non-disabled members to join the club.
A renowned photographer, Andy Taylor Smith, heard about Alan and resolved to make a film about part of his life story. This short film, 'This Chair is not Me', won numerous prestigious awards across the world for the film maker and a full length film was to be made.
Recently Alan became co-leader of the Cheshire and Merseyside Branch of '1Voice-Communicating Together', an organisation which supports families with a child who uses a communication aid. This group is reaching out to new members.
A fiercely independent man, Alan had many great ambitions, some of which, sadly, he was not to realise. As well as buying a home in Liverpool, he intended to set up his own fully accessible dance studio where his teaching inclusive dance could blossom and grow. He was determined to influence government policy towards disabled people, especially those without speech. (Alan was a regular visitor to the House of Commons and No. 10!) One ambition which may still come to fruition is the writing of Alan's life story. He had made a start, but was so busy with his work commitments that he was not able to devote time to completing this work. Friends are committed to following through this wish and will write his biography. It is to be sold in support of the causes Alan held dear.
Recently he had been involved in several research projects in the area of artificial voice, and improving access to communication equipment. He was to have had a part in an 'Artificial Voice Opera' linked to his work with the CreST network, based at York University.
Many, many tributes to Alan have poured in since his death. Let's all remember him as the funny, generous, energetic person that he was. Keep on dancing Alan! His ashes are to be scattered on the Mersey.
A quote from Alan. "Never let anybody tell you that you won't ever be able to do something!"
Alan Martin - the Scouse Mouse.
Written by JOAN RUDELL, friend and carer to Alan
Founder LDSA members Andy Coleman and Ann Ward received awards from the LDSA chairperson Keith Graham for their contribution in promoting the association and forging its strong backbone over its ten years.
The LDSA presented Brian Hall with his 'Lifetime Achievement Award' at our annual Christmas Dinner in 2012. Chairperson Keith Graham is seen presenting the award to Brian who has helped the LDSA from its inception in 2003.
The LDSA recently donated £500 to Whizz Kidz via Radio City's Cash for Kids charity at our annual Christmas dinner in December 2012. Keith Graham, chairperson of the LDSA, is seen here presenting the cheque to Radio City's Carole Clare. The money will go towards the cost of providing new 'wheels' for disabled children.
The LDSA is 10 years old this year, 2013. We plan to mark this celebration with special appearances and events during the year at our dinner nights. The first of which is the end of season Player of the Year Dinner Night provisionally booked for 16 May 2013. Watch out for further details.
All LDSA members will be notified prior to any social events by either email or letter. Due to limited space available at some of our events, we may have to issue tickets on a first come first served basis. So please look out for invites and reply as soon as possible to guarantee your place.
Player of the Year Dinner 2013
The 2013 Player of the Year dinner night is provisionally booked for Thursday 16 May at 7.30pm.
Notification and application letters will be sent out to members well in advance. All fees must accompany applications in cheque or postal order form. No cash payments will be accepted in the post or on the night. Please ensure your nomination for Player of the Year is also enclosed. Remember to apply early, as events are now first come, first served.
The Level Playing Field organisation, previously known as NADS (National Association of Disabled Supporters) play a major part in helping the LDSA and many other clubs. We, the LDSA are full members. An LPF event will be held at Anfield during season 2012-13. They have recently held their AGM and yearly objectives. For further information please go to www.levelplayingfield.org.uk
Every three years committee members are voted back in or new members asked to join. This is dependent on various circumstances. The LDSA has held this year's ballot and are pleased to confirm the re-election of Ste Cuddy and Dave Smith and the election of Dave Higham to the committee. They have been elected for a three-year term. Letters have been sent or emailed to each candidate informing them of the result.
LDSA committee member Stephen Hunt and disability liaison officer Colin McCall have visited Switzerland as part of a yearly initiative for the European Disabled Football Tournament in July 2012. The LDSA will be continuing to support this and have presented some of our merchandise to attendees, this was well received.
Over the last 12 months the LDSA committee has held meetings with senior members of Liverpool Football Club in order to address matters affecting disabled supporters when visiting Anfield and other away grounds.
- For several seasons the committee has been trying to secure an increase in the number of wheelchair spaces at Anfield and two seasons ago the wheelchair allocation was increased by 10 spaces.
- After a recent feasibility study LFC has informed us that it is not viable to increase wheelchair capacity until plans are finalised for either a new stadium or the re-development of the Anfield. The LDSA Stadium Consultation Group will be consulted on the developments as and when they happen.
- The disabled toilet facilities which serve the Paddock area of Anfield have been a point of discussion for some time due to its location in a very busy area making access difficult.
- The LFC stadium manager agreed to the building of an extra accessible disabled toilet. This work has now been completed and the toilet is situated under the Kop Grandstand near to the Paddock. The LDSA Committee was disappointed that the facility was not a full Changing Places toilet but the new facility has none the less been beneficial to all those disabled fans in the Kop and Paddock.
Since the introduction of the new ticketing system which allows the purchase of tickets through the membership scheme, the LDSA Committee has had several meetings with the LFC ticket office manager amid concerns that the system is not fully accessible to disabled supporters and is therefore discriminatory.
- The committee is concerned that disabled fans cannot purchase tickets online.
- LFC agree that the present system is not suitable for disabled fans and is now talking to its system software provider about installing an accessible online system. No time limit has been put on this but the LDSA believes that this should be a high priority and will need to be implemented sooner rather than later.
- There is also a concern that disabled fans are spending a long time (thus incurring greater costs) waiting on the telephone purchasing system compared to non-disabled supporters due to the smaller number of trained staff available to process disabled tickets.
- To make telephone sales more equal for disabled supporters a decision was made to sell the disabled tickets at the same time as family tickets at a separate time to the main members' sale; this is not an ideal solution but it is a short term compromise that gives better access to disabled supporters.
- The committee has also had complaints from disabled supporters about how they were going to pay for their tickets in block purchases.
- The LDSA has no control over how the club sells tickets and believes that many non-disabled supporters also face financial problems preventing them from purchasing tickets; the policy isn't discriminatory and if the club were to somehow assist disabled supporters this could be seen as reverse discrimination.
- The allocation of away tickets is also still a bone of contention for wheelchair using supporters with most clubs giving very few to visiting supporters irrelevant of the number of overall available spaces and the recommended ratio that they should offer; it often appears to be a game of what you to us we will give to you.
- This should not be the case and some clubs do increase their away allocation but others can't or won't meet the requests made by the LFC ticket office staff on behalf of disabled supporters.
- With the continued support of the LFC disability ticketing staff, whom it should be noted are always supportive and proactive, the LDSA will continue to pursue every case involving disabled ticketing matters both at Anfield and at away grounds.
- The LDSA Committee would like to make clear that although the LDSA is recognised by LFC as an official supporters group it has no role in the sale of match tickets. Supporters wishing to purchase tickets can find the required information at /tickets/accessibility.
- The LDSA continues to represent its members and their views in its capacity as the official disabled supporters association of LFC. The LDSA aims to uphold and further the rights of all disabled football fans.
- If you have any comments or questions please do not hesitate to email the LDSA at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our utmost to answer your question(s).