2023 Winner



Co-founded disability charity Sense Scotland, and devoted 35 years to supporting deafblind children and their families.

Roy was inspired to help children and families affected by deafblindness after his daughter Cheryl was born with the condition. There was little support available and he feared she would spend her life in an institution, until he linked up with a small group of parents of children with similar needs in Strathclyde.

Together, they formed a charity called Sense Scotland in 1985 and started to put pressure on their local council for more support. As a result the first school in Britain for deafblind children was opened in Glasgow.

Cheryl was one of the first people in Scotland to benefit from specialist education and touch signing allowed her to communicate with her family for the first time.

Roy took over as chair in 1993. Under his leadership, the charity grew into a national service supporting thousands of people with services including supported living, day and respite care, and a range of specialist programmes including early years and advice for families.

Roy, 74, says: “When Cheryl was born she couldn’t breastfeed or bottle feed. We were then told she was going to be deaf and blind. We felt totally alone. Our dream in the early days was to have the ability to express our feelings and love for our daughter.”

Cheryl, now 44, lives independently, and loves swimming, skiing and playing in a band. Roy retired as chairman in 2020, but his legacy lives on.