Saturday's game against Swansea was our designated matchday designated to Level Playing Field's 'United For Access' campaign, celebrating inclusion and access for all of our disabled supporters. The following column was written for the matchday programme by outgoing Luton Town Disabled Supporters Association chair, Richard Hill MBE...
After a spell of around six years, it is with a heavy heart that I must step down as the chair of the Luton Town Disabled Supporters Association (LTDSA). I feel the time is now right to hand over the reins of what started as a bit of a rant about buying some tickets for an away fixture at Barnet, that eventually led to the formation of the LTDSA and my placement as the first chair!
A subsequent meeting with Gary Sweet to talk about this and what the aims and objectives would be, was only met with huge support and the rest, as they say, is history. The club made the necessary resource required to set things in motion, available and off we went!
Forming a committee of like-minded people for me, has been a delight and I am pleased to say most of those good people still serve the committee and the disabled supporters of the club fantastically well.
It is with a heavy heart that I step down, however, I have so many things going on in my life that I feel I am unable to allocate the energy and commitment that this role fully needs and deserves. Over the six years or so, we can be proud of what we have achieved as a group. With a fantastic working relationship with the club, the DSA have implemented an easier eligibility process for disabled supporters to obtain match day tickets. We have implemented ‘Hatters-Vision’ a live audio feed into live commentary for supporters who are visually impaired, both home and away.
A whole host of ‘small wins’ around what is an aging ground to make the comfort levels of disabled supporters better. Working closely with other clubs’ DSA’s to provide and receive matchday information that is so vital for disabled supporters in their planning.
Being consulted on a number of occasions during varying stages of the planning process for the new stadium by the club and Gary in particular has been so welcomed and to have vital input at those stages is crucial and hugely appreciated by us as a group.
If you are a disabled supporter yourself, or an ally to a disabled supporter, please make contact with the club. They need you! – With the time ticking towards that new stadium, the DSA will play a major role around accessibility so it’s a great time to get involved.
Richard Hill MBE