A man from Iver has been honoured with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday’s Honour’s list.

Chris Wood received the award for his recognition following his work as the founder of Flying Disabled – a charity whose sole objective is to improve the experience for disabled people when travelling by air, by allowing wheelchair users to travel in their own wheelchair in the aircraft cabin.

His efforts have been inspired by events in his own life, as Mr Wood is a single parent to two severely disabled children, with both of his youngsters having a passion for travel.

Mr Wood has been working to improve the experiences for disabled people since 2015

And after seeing the difficulties that disabled people have when boarding flights, and to try and improve their aviation experiences, he founded the charity in 2015.

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Speaking to the Bucks Free Press, Mr Wood said: “It’s been about half-a-dozen years or so where I took a flight with my daughter and both her and my son are wheelchair users and so from then, it doesn’t matter if you’re eight or 80, you’re manhandled out of wheelchair onto the aircraft.

“So, in summary, across all transport, aviation is the last one to be wheelchair accessible.

“We’re talking about power wheelchairs, and I have learnt over the last few years, I have dropped myself in the aviation supply shed and in reality, the only people that were ever going to make this happen was going to be in aviation.

Mr Wood has two children who are wheelchair users

“Even if I got the Government and DfT [Department for Transport] to go down the legal route, there has to be some harmonisation and that there is where we are getting to now after six years.

“We’ve got a concept now after the guidance of a consortium which is bringing this together, and we hope before the end of the year, we will be showing people how it's done, as well as a prototype to say that this can be done. 

Chris’ MBE has been awarded for achieving the following:

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Landmark roundtable: Following his first meeting with then Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, Chris secured a commitment from the Government to host a landmark roundtable to discuss accessibility.

Government’s Aviation Strategy Green Paper: Outputs from the roundtable formed part of the Government’s Aviation Strategy Green Paper, including improved storage of wheelchairs in the hold and increased disability awareness training among staff.

•The Strategy also commits to the charity’s overarching aim of exploring the use of wheelchairs on aircraft.

Collaboration with airlines: Chris also works closely with airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, and instigated what is believed to be the world’s first Air Accessibility Symposium in 2017, pushing the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to host a Global Accessibility Symposium at the event in 2019.

Heathrow technical standards: He also helped Heathrow to shape an accessibility strategy and he has also put together an Accessibility Technical Standards Document which will define how Heathrow build accessibility into their airport in the years to come.

Global Travel Taskforce: He also sits on the Global Travel Taskforce, the Safe Transportation and Wheelchair Group, and the Heathrow Accessibility Advisory Group, amongst others.

He continued: “I’ve got an amazing team around me and if I could persuade these guys to create something that is a lot more accessible in a wider spectrum then it is for all the better.

“The MBE is great but ultimately, it is not what we try and get but it is great to get that recognition.

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“I saw there was an email for me from the Cabinet Office which I usually get as I work with the DfT (Department for Transport), and I was totally shocked.

“I was totally and utterly shocked.

“I wasn’t expecting it as it is not something you set out to do.

“I want to make aviation better.”

For more information, visit www.flyingdisabled.org.uk.