World renowned scientist, Stephen Hawking, has died at the age of 76 at his home in Cambridge.

Living with motor neurone disease (ALS) for more than 50 years, Stephen Hawking transcended his disability to become one of science’s brightest stars, harnessing technology to once again give voice to his ideas.

“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus,” he told the New York Times in 2004. He was given only a few years to live when he was diagnosed with a form of motor neurone, but he defied the medical profession.

“I have lived five decades longer than doctors predicted. I have tried to make good use of my time,” he said in his 2013 autobiographical documentary, ‘Hawking’. “Because every day could be my last, I have the desire to make the most of each and every minute.”

He was eventually left almost completely paralysed and unable to speak, except through a voice synthesiser operated by facial movements.

Stephen never let his disability stop him and became one of the first to popularise deep science, utilising a range of media to educate the general public on the secrets of the universe.

For those struggling to understand Professor Hawking’s vast theories on the Universe, The Guardian included them in there ‘Big ideas made simple’ series:

Professor Paul Shellard, who was a student of Professor Hawking said, “He identified what he could do well, exceptionally well, and focussed on that, not what he couldn’t do”

Stephen became a role-model and inspiration for many. He certainly raised awareness for motor neurone diseases.

One of his major contributions to disability in general was simply being visible – often at a time when disabled voices were missing from popular culture.

He made small-screen appearances on The Simpsons, Star Trek and The Big Bang Theory. His life was dramatised by the BBC and in the film The Theory of Everything.

Steve Bell, from the MND association, said: “He was probably the most famous person with a physical disability and it almost normalises it to see his absolute genius.”

Stephen Hawking with Permobil trying new wheelchairs

“I think it affected a lot of people, seeing he’s more than a trapped body. The public’s view of disability has changed.”

Our lifestand advisor, David Headford, had the pleasure of meeting him, whilst working for Permobil (who create the incredible Lifestand range of chairs we sell). In memory, David posted: “Reflections of a few years ago now helping with new solutions to assist with this great guys needs.”

He was a truly incredible individual, who achieved amazing things and touched so many people’s hearts. His legacy will rightly live on.

RIP Stephen Hawking – 1942-2018

 

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