When I arranged to meet Ian Stones for an interview, he was very clear on his instructions on where to meet to avoid any confusion. On the day, he phoned to say he was a little early and to let me know exactly where he was.
This is a man who instinctively likes to look after other people; he’s punctual, he leads and he ensures that everything is clear and understood.
Ian has a learning disability and has just been awarded one of six lifetime fellowships to the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), in collaboration with the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability, because of his role as a campaigner for those with special needs and disabilities.
His work started back in the early 2000s when, in collaboration with Aberdeen City Council, he set up a Learning Disability Group for Aberdeen to discuss issues of importance to those in the city with additional needs, to give them a voice and share their views on a local and national level.
He also attracted speakers to the group, discussing pertinent topics relevant to those on the learning disability spectrum. His contacts brought in guests from NHS Grampian and the Scottish Health Council, to name two key players.
When Aberdeen’s new health village was being built, Ian was present at the planning stage to discuss what this new site might require for those with learning disabilities, everything from easy access to digestible information.
This led to the publication of pamphlets to help those with limited reading skills prepare for a trip to the doctor or the hospital. The language in the booklets is basic and much of the information is pictorial – a simple idea, but it takes someone like Ian to help make it happen.
Ian is now the chair of the Learning Disability Group of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, a group that he secured 12 months of funding for. His leadership qualities have been recognised by Grampian Opportunities, which assisted with his nomination for the SCLD/RSA award.
He openly beams when he recounts the moment he received the call to say his work was being recognised. “I was shocked. This is work I do all the time, I’ve done it for years, but I’m not doing it for myself, I’m doing it for others who can’t speak for themselves.”
But Ian is not complacent. There’s still a lot of work ahead. “Rome wasn’t built in a day. Our group has got a long way to go and there’s a more we can achieve but we’ve got to do it right. I want more good ideas to come out of the group so it can be as good as it can be.”
Ian’s in good company – the other five fellowship winners are:
- Cameron Morgan, visual artist, Falkirk
- Leanne Clarke, author / playwright, Lochgelly
- Ross Inglis, piper, Dundee
- Maria Lauder, community entrepeneur, Coldstream
- Adam Sloan, dancer / choreographer, Glasgow
Chris Creegan, chief executive of SCLD, said of the six: “They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things in their communities. They are ambitious and innovative. They are change makers and influencers.”
For more information on the fellowships, go here: Scottish Commission for Learning Disability