Meldreth man with disabilities recognised as a ‘leader of tomorrow’

James Aston, who attends Aurora Orchard Manor in Meldreth, has been recognised as one of the 'leader

James Aston, who attends Aurora Orchard Manor in Meldreth, has been recognised as one of the 'leaders of tomorrow'. Picture: The Aurora Group - Credit: Archant

A 27-year-old man who attends a residential service in Meldreth for young people with disabilities has been recognised as one of the ‘leaders of tomorrow’.

James Aston lives at Aurora Orchard Manor – which helps people with disabilities transition from education to adulthood – and has been recognised by The Education and Training Foundation and The Council for Disabled Children in Tomorrow’s Leader – A World Beyond Disability magazine for the impact he has made in challenging inequalities.

James has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user, and despite having no voice conveys his thoughts and ideas using his eyes for ‘yes’ and ‘no’, together with a symbol book that his carers point to.

He used to enjoy spending time with family and friends at Essendon Cricket Club, but as he got older this became impossible due to a lack of changing facilities. After he raised this in a meeting with ex-England and Essex team captain Graham Gooch, mobile changing places became available to make the club accessible to all.

Locally, James has shared a presentation with the Speak Out advocacy council about the lack of accessible public transport in the area, and also visited Addenbrooke’s Hospital to give feedback about the user-friendliness of their service.

Denise Grayston, principal at Aurora Orchard Manor, said: “We are all immensely proud of James. He is a valued member of our community and his pioneering spirit has helped him achieve great things. We are delighted that he has received national recognition for his achievements.”

James has come up with many ideas to make life more fun and interesting for his peers. These have included a sensory Halloween party, talent competitions based on TV shows and many more.

Most Read

He wants people to see that just because he cannot speak, it does not mean he is unable to understand or contribute. A big fan of Simon Cowell, James would love to judge a talent competition on TV for people with disabilities and get paid for it!

Cathy Rundell, service manager at Aurora Orchard Manor, said: “James is an excellent example of how Orchard Manor nurtures all the young people in its care and encourages them to follow their dreams.”