Disability campaigner Sir Bert Massie dies aged 68

The former Commissioner for the Compact also spent seven years as chair of the former Disability Rights Commission

Sir Bert Massie
Sir Bert Massie

Tributes have been paid to Sir Bert Massie, the former Commissioner for the Compact and disability campaigner, who died yesterday aged 68 after an illness.

Massie, who was Commissioner for the Compact from 2008 until the role was abolished with the closure of the Commission for the Compact by the coalition government in 2011, also spent seven years as chair of the former Disability Rights Commission.

Massie, who was a wheelchair user because he contracted polio as a baby, was a governor of the charity Motability, which helps people with disabilities to lease cars, scooters or powered wheelchairs.

He was chief executive of the disability charity Radar in the 1990s and was appointed OBE in 1984 and CBE in 2000, then knighted in 2007 for services to disabled people.

Massie was a strong campaigner for disabled people but also a vocal supporter of the Compact, the agreement set up by the Labour government in 1998 that sets out how the voluntary sector and central and local government should behave towards each other.

He was also a member of the former Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector, which produced four annual reports between 2012 and 2015 on the independence of charities.

Richard Corden, who was chief executive of the Commission for the Compact while Massie was the commissioner, said it was an "unalloyed pleasure" to work with him.

"He was a very generous and warm-hearted man, and of course a shrewd and effective campaigner who used a mixture of humour and steel to get what he wanted," said Corden, who is now director of the Southampton Hospital Charity.

"He believed passionately in the power of voluntary action to change people’s lives for the better. He was a force for good in national life."

Declan O’Mahony, director of Motability, said today: "It was with deep sadness that we learned of the death of Sir Bert Massie yesterday morning after his recent illness.

"Bert had been a powerful campaigner for the rights of disabled people for more than four decades and a governor of Motability since 2002.

"We will miss his contribution and expertise in disability matters, as well as his warm manner and distinctive sense of humour."

Tom Levitt, the former Labour MP and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Community and Voluntary Sector, said on Twitter that Massie was a "breath of fresh air, crap-cutter extraordinaire and a great champion of the possible".

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the British Asian Trust and former chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said on Twitter that Massie was a "lovely man who made an enormous difference for the rights of disabled people".

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