Picture of Maggie Winchcombe smiling to camera wearing glasses

Doctor of Law

An occupational therapist who helped to shape advances in independent living for people with disabilities.

Maggie Winchcombe grew up in Portsmouth and trained as an occupational therapist after completing a Foundation Course at Portsmouth College of Art and Design (1966).

She began her career in the NHS but moved in 1983 to a local charity that provided information services for disabled people and carers. Her role – a completely new one and unusual for an occupational therapist at the time – was to set up and run a disability equipment advice and demonstration service. She had the unique experience of working closely with disabled people, as colleagues and managers, just as their grass-roots Independent Living Movement was gathering strength. 

After ten years at the charity, Maggie was seconded to Hampshire County Council, to work on their strategy for improving community equipment services for disabled people. This led to a role with the Disabled Living Centres Council (DLCC), a national charity (now defunct) representing a network of equipment advice centres in the UK.

From 1995, she worked on ground-breaking Department of Health funded projects, including one that laid the foundation for major policy changes for integrated community equipment services, now standard in the UK. She also developed guidelines on the skills and knowledge required to competently assess and advise disabled and older people.

Maggie went on to set up a business consultancy called Years Ahead, focused on improving availability of mobility and independent living products to all who need them. She retired from the business in 2020 and still lives in Portsmouth.

Her accolades include a Fellowship, Royal College of Occupational Therapists (2006), Honorary Fellowship, York St John University (2007), OBE (2007) and an honorary doctorate from the University of Portsmouth (2008).