Warrington Disability Partnership

A very special friendship between Warrington Disability Partnership and Walton Hall and Gardens has been celebrated.

A new plaque has been officially unveiled in the grounds of Walton Hall to mark nearly 30 years of Disability Awareness Day (DAD) being held at the venue.

The plaque serves as a tribute to the successful partnership and to everyone who has made DAD possible — from the volunteers, aptly named DAD’s Army, through to members of the DAD Week Team, who contribute over 120 hours on the park each year during the 10 days build and breakdown.

It also recognises the huge contribution made to the annual event by the management and administration teams, sponsors, supporters, exhibitors and visitors.

Founded by Dave Thompson in 1992, DAD has gone from strength to strength and is now recognised as the world’s largest voluntary-led, pan disability event.

DAD highlights at Walton Hall and Gardens over the years include the royal visit in 2011 by Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex, and fly overs by the RAF Red Arrows and Battle of Britain display teams. DAD Warrington has also provided charities with the opportunity to raise over £1million. In addition, the event has also served as an inspiration to others, with DAD events now held in a number of other towns and cities across the UK and 10 other countries worldwide.

Dave Thompson, Chief Executive of Warrington Disability Partnership (WDP), is grateful for the support given by Warrington’s leading green venue over the years. He said: “We simply couldn’t hold DAD without the ongoing help and support of the management and staff at Walton Hall and Gardens.

“Our collaboration is built on mutual respect - not only does WDP use the facilities each year, we are involved in other aspects, including providing advice and guidance on improvements to access and facilities and attending community events held at the park.

“Initially, we were told by various leading people that DAD wouldn’t work, and the fact it has not only been successful but has grown in popularity over almost 30 years is the most pleasing. We’re looking forward to celebrating our 30th anniversary next year.”

This year’s 29th DAD event was due to be held at Walton Hall and Gardens on Sunday 20 July, but had to be postponed due to Covid-19. Instead, the 2020 event is being held virtually. Anyone can join online at dadvirtual.org.uk, from Sunday 25 October.

The virtual event will feature over 100 businesses, charities and statutory services working side-by-side with one common aim - to provide information, advice and guidance on what support is there to help people who are disabled or have a long term health condition.

This will be supported by an amazing line up in the Virtual Arts Marquee, including international award winning dancers, celebrity TV comedians and singers who have appeared on stage in the UK and the USA.

In addition, visitors will be able to watch videos of past Centre Arena Acts and virtually visit various facilities available in the park, including the zoo, the hall, the orangery and greenhouses, the pond and raised flowerbeds - all from the comfort of their own home.

Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet member for leisure and community, Cllr Tony Higgins said: “Warrington Disability Awareness Day is one of the most important dates in our annual calendar, bringing our communities together for a celebration of a ‘can do’ attitude, raising awareness and providing a range of invaluable information and support for people with a disability.

“We have been proud to host the event at Walton Hall and Gardens for nearly 30 years, and it’s been wonderful to see the event thrive and grow.

“While the current restrictions mean this year’s event has to be held virtually, I’m delighted that we have been able to unveil this plaque in the gardens, marking over two decades of a very special friendship. Long may it continue!”

Join in this year’s Virtual Disability Awareness Day on Sunday 25 October at dadvirtual.org.uk

Warrington Disability Partnership will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disability Awareness Day at Walton Hall and Gardens on Sunday 18 July 2021.