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Town Elects the United Kingdom's First Mayor With a Learning Disability

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There’s a new mayor in town, and he’s making history for people with learning disabilities.

Gavin Harding, former deputy mayor, was recently elected to be the mayor of Selby, North Yorkshire, making him the United Kingdom’s first mayor with a learning disability.


I had to keep pinching myself, saying is this real,” Harding told The Guardian. 

Harding, who has a form of cerebral palsy, has lived in Selby his whole life, where he was only one of six people with disabilities to attend a mainstream school, according to The Guardian. In 2011, he was elected to represent Selby’s North Ward on the Selby Town Council, and two years ago he was chosen to be the Chair of the National Forum for people with learning disabilities.

His advocacy resume goes on. Earlier this year he co-wrote the United Kingdom’s “green paper of proposals,” which gives people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions more rights around the care they receive. He’s one of the founders of Voices for People, a group from Selby that supports adults with learning disabilities and promotes self-advocacy. In 2014, he was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and awarded his MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his services in the disability community.

According to the Selby’s Town Council website, he will “continue to be the champion for people with disabilities throughout his term.”

There is nothing stopping people with learning disabilities,” Harding told The Guardian. 

We agree.

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Originally published: May 28, 2015
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