Honorary Doctorate for charity visionary
Amo Raju, chief executive of Disability Direct, the biggest user-led disability charity in the Midlands, is to be recognised for his lifelong work by the University of Derby as an Honorary Doctor of the University for his contribution to the voluntary sector and disabled people.
Previously a successful Bhangra singer, Raju, who was secretly battling with depression, joined the charity as a volunteer admin assistant in 1994. Within three years, he worked his way up to the CEO position.
Earlier this year, Raju was recognised nationally by winning the ‘Outstanding 3rd Sector Achievement’ at The British Sikh Awards and also being listed by The Shaw Trust in ‘The Power 100 List’ as one of the most influential disabled people in the country.
He said: “I’m humbled and uncharacteristically speechless. This award will not only mean so much to me but will hopefully inspire future generations of disabled people to learn and then apply skills which benefit the wider community. I thank the University of Derby from the bottom of my heart for recognising my efforts and hope to continue working to improve options and facilities for all in the city.”
David Moss, chair of Disability Direct, addeD: “Amo’s energy and vision for user-led disability projects has inspired a whole new generation of disabled people to not only create but take control of their own services whenever necessary. Under his leadership, the charity has raised just under £30m and taken over 130,000 enquiries. The voluntary sector truly benefits from having someone like Amo who believes in the concept of action rather than words. Disability Direct is naturally delighted and immensely proud of Amo’s achievements over the years and this Doctorate is so well-deserved.”
Recently, Raju opened up about his own relationship with mental health and depression across his social media platforms in an aim to encourage others to talk to someone about whatever their troubles are.
He will graduate alongside students at the University at Derby Arena later this month.
Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, vice-chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “Graduation is such an important milestone for our students, their families and guests. It is the culmination of years of hard work and provides an opportunity for our students to reflect on what they have achieved and celebrate the efforts they have put into their studies during their time at university. It is also an opportunity to recognise and thank those inspirational people who have helped contribute to our University, city and county, which is done so through the awarding of honorary degrees. The positive impact this year’s honorands have made is significant, so we are delighted to be able to acknowledge that.”