Having contracted polio and becoming paralysed from the waist down while serving in the Royal Navy in 1945, O A Denly (Denny) was issued with a petrol powered Argson tricycle with a maximum speed of 30mph. In June 1947 he crossed the Swiss Alps on it, and in August the same year listeners to the BBC Home Service were enthralled by a broadcast about his extraordinary expedition.
So much interest was aroused from the radio broadcast that an article appeared in Motorcycle Magazine to float the idea of an association, and in 1948 the Invalid Tricycle Association was formed. The main activities revolved around rallies and excursions and travel. The association also focused on mutual help and support for its members. These two organisations both run by disabled people, merged to form the Disabled Drivers’ Association and successfully brought in the replacement of the ‘Invacar’ by the Motability Scheme (1978) which funded disabled people to buy standard cars and have them adapted. The Chronically Sick and Disabled Person’s Act was the first law that referred to access to buildings, as a result of the work of Denny Denly, who in the 1960s was the country’s only access officer.
The O.A. Denly Memorial Award is an award set up by the DMUK, Disabled Motoring UK, a charity that Denly was a founding member. He was a life-long campaigner for the rights of disabled people and a keen sportsman.
The award recognises disabled people who, like Denny, has taken on a truly inspiring challenge. Nominees for this award are people who live their life to the full, whatever the circumstances.
After his death in 2010 it was decided to replicate Denny's epic journey of 1947 both as a memorial to the man and to raise awareness with government of the issues that are increasingly affecting the lives of disabled people.
Through cooperative of individuals, businesses and the army the challenge was a success!