A disabled Oxfordshire man who founded a charity over a quarter century ago has been recognised by King Charles with an MBE.

Michael Edwards from Bicester is partially sighted and has a learning disability but has not let that stop him from making a difference.

He always felt a deep injustice at the lack of involvement that people with learning disabilities had in decision-making around their own lives.

He founded the Oxford-based charity My Life My Choice in 1998, and for the past 26 years he has been a champion of the rights of people with a learning disability.

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He is also an active trustee of the organisation and, in 2017, in recognition of his efforts the charity’s membership voted for Michael to be made the lifetime President.

Now Michael has been awarded an MBE by King Charles III in the monarch’s new honours list released this week.

On receipt of the honour, Michael said he feels “extremely proud” and added: “When we started the charity, there was nothing for us [people with learning disabilities].

“We were told what to do and when to do it.”

When asked what his proudest achievement has been, he said: “Getting justice for Connor.”

Between 2013 and 2017, Michael worked on the Laughing Boy campaign following the death through negligence of Connor Sparrowhawk.

The 18-year-old had an epileptic seizure and drowned in a bath whilst under the care of Southern Health at Slade House in Oxford.

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Michael Edwards (left) started the charity 26 years ago.Michael Edwards (left) started the charity 26 years ago. (Image: My Life My Choice)

Connor’s mother and Patron of MLMC said that she could think of nobody more of an MBE than Michael.

Current lead trustee of the charity, Adrian Chappell, said: “Michael has done a fabulous job in starting MLMC up. He is an inspiration.

“This is a very proud moment for everybody associated with MLMC.’

Kate Terroni Deputy Director of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and former Director for Adult Services at Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) said: “Michael has consistently and passionately defended the right of people with learning disabilities to run and to be in charge of their own charity.

“There are now some 800 members with learning disabilities who benefit from the charity’s outstanding work and many I speak with strive to be like their role model, Michael Edwards.

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Michael Edwards (centre) has received an MBE.Michael Edwards (centre) has received an MBE. (Image: My Life My Choice)

“MLMC and Michael are extremely well known for the valuable work that is delivered, not only in Oxfordshire but, on a national level and I know it gives OCC great pride to be associated with this organisation and its founder.

“Michael has made a huge difference and without Michael’s efforts the lives of people with learning disabilities would be all the much poorer.”

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