It was over 14 years ago when I first got involved with Scope. I was in my thirties and I ran the London Marathon for them. It took me four hours, 17 minutes and 50 seconds, just getting inside the four hours, 18 minute barrier that all serious athletes are aiming for. I didn't know too much about the charity then - my friend had told me that I could get a guaranteed place in the race if I ran for them - but over the last decade and a half I have become much more involved in the fantastic and important work that they do and had some amazing experiences thanks to Scope, their staff and the people they are working with. I will never forget the look of joy on the kid's faces as they performed at a Scope Christmas play, when they were dressed up as dancing Christmas trees.
At one event I asked a wheelchair user how best to refer to people who don't have a disability and she replied, "We call you the not-yet-disabled." I don't think a single sentence has had a more profound effect on my outlook. Even if you're one of the increasing band of people who think we shouldn't be working together to make life equal for everyone, then perhaps you can appreciate that eventually all the issues that Scope tackle will one day apply to you. Supporting them means you might one day be supporting yourself.
Every year I try to raise as much money as I can for this charity whose work I've realised is vital to so many disabled people and their families. Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else.
This year, they've just launched their new strategy which sets out to reach two million disabled people by 2022 and move towards everyday equality. It's a very exciting time for Scope and I am proud to be a Patron.
Oh Frig, I'm 50!
I'm turning 50 this year. My days of being not-yet-disabled are numbered! For a comedian who has found it hard to face growing up and managed to retain a large degree of immaturity, that's a startling milestone. Luckily I can turn my angst, disbelief and existential horror into comedy, so that I'm back at the Edinburgh Fringe with a brand new stand up show. I first did the Fringe, what seems like yesterday, but on checking my diary I see was in 1987. That can't be right. My calendar must be malfunctioning. Also my mirror.
As usual I will be using the opportunity of a new live show to raise money for Scope, with a free programme that I give out at all my Edinburgh and subsequent tour dates, followed by a collection at the end of each show - people don't have to give anything, but they invariably do. It's probably slightly easier than running a Marathon. Though lugging the boxes of programmes around is at least giving me some exercise in any old age.
How you can help!
You can help with the fundraising right now though. As always I am offering people the chance to get their name (or any name they wish to see in print) in this year's Edinburgh Fringe and tour programme by donating £15 or more (you must donate by May 14th - the more you donate, the bigger your name will appear in the programme). You will also receive a limited edition version of the programme, signed by me. Just head to my JustGiving page to donate to Scope today. There's also an opportunity to spend a bit more and take out a full-page advert in the programme which will be seen by around 20,000 comedy fans and show that your business supports this incredibly worthwhile charity. Email me at email@example.com for rates.
Please give generously! I hope to see you at my Edinburgh Fringe show in August. Head to the Edinburgh Fringe festival website to find out more about my show, 'Oh Frig, I'm 50' and book tickets.
And make sure you visit Scope's website to find out more about their new strategy and their plans to drive social change so that disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else.
Award-winning comedian, writer, author and broadcaster Richard Herring is back with a brand-new show, 'Oh Frig, I'm 50', this year . Scope Patron Richard has raised an incredible £305,000 over the years, and he's using his new show to raise even more money for the charity.