Disability rights activist Michaela Hollywood has received an MBE from Her Royal Highness Princess Anne in an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle.
A member of ILF Scotland’s Northern Ireland Stakeholder Group since September 2022, Michaela travelled to London with her family to accept the honour.
Michaela’s award, which was announced in June as part of the first King’s Birthday Honours list, recognises her services to disabled people. Michaela, who is from County Down, is Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Pathfinders Neuromuscular Alliance and lives with the genetic condition spinal muscular atrophy.
The title of Member of the Order of the British Empire acknowledges outstanding achievement or service to the community, which has a long-term, significant impact and stands out as an example to others.
Michaela said: “I was delighted that I received my insignia from Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, who I also met right at the beginning of my activism.
“We had a lovely chat about the progress that has been made, and the work still to do for equality and inclusion of disabled people.
“We also talked about the progression of wheelchairs and the challenges but advancements that come from those technological revolutions.
“It’s been a great few days celebrating with family and reflecting on not just disabled joy, but also gratitude that I am disabled and surrounded by a support system which makes the work I do possible.
“I ended the conversation with Princess Anne by promising we wouldn’t stop here. And we won’t. We have much more to do, and I’m looking forward to continuing until disabled people are fully included in society across the world.”
As an ILF recipient, Michaela uses the support to fund personal assistants to meet her care needs, which in turn allows her to lead a more independent life.
Michaela has said she was inspired to take up campaigning after being told she was not allowed to be on the ground floor at a concert when she was 17 years old.
She said: “Not being allowed to sit where I wanted for that concert really sparked a tiny flame into a massive fire and I haven’t looked back since.”
Since Michaela first started receiving support from ILF when she was 17, she has gone on to complete an undergraduate degree in PR. She has also gained a Masters in PR and Communication, specialising in Political Lobbying, and passed her driving test.
ILF Scotland provides funding support for more than 300 disabled people in Northern Ireland.You can read more about Michaela’s story.