Marlene le Roux, CEO of the Artscape Theatre Centre in Cape Town, has received the prestigious Commonwealth Point of Light Award from Queen Elizabeth II for her tireless work in the disability sector. Marlene, who featured in Issue 4 of ROLLING INSPIRATION in 2017, is the fifth South African to be presented with the award.
“The Commonwealth Point of Light Award bestowed upon me by Her Majesty the Queen is an honour I receive with gratitude and humility. The volunteerism is a selfless and life work in order to create access, opportunities and empowerment to the communities I serve. I accept this award on behalf of all people with disabilities in order to bring visibility and access to opportunities and employment in the mainstream of society,” Marlene says.
She adds that serving and sharing her journey as a person with a disability from a rural community, brought up by her mother and grandmother, is testament to the ideal of an inclusive and harmonious society.
Marlene notes that raising her son Adam, who had a disability, also taught her the challenges life can present, especially for mothers. Being a mother with a disability raising a son with a disability also taught her the immense financial and logistical effort needed to be fully functional in society. She also thanks her daughter Aimee, who embraces inclusivity and has given Marlene the space to practise her social activism.
“This award calls for a special dedication to Adam, who was my angel. He lived a purposeful life – a life of peace and healing – all without uttering a single word. He had a way of connecting with people when he was in a room. His spirit was clearly felt. He taught us a few important life lessons, such as humility. He taught us that worldly possessions mean nothing,” Marlene says.
Adam passed away shortly before his 16th birthday.
Marlene concludes: “In South Africa, there were deep divisions along racial and gender lines under apartheid. The acceptance of people with disabilities is an ever-changing and ever-evolving process in all societies.
“Historically, people with disabilities have been excluded from the majority of meaningful activities in society, including access to education, health and economic opportunities. This award will, I hope, illuminate the civil and political will needed to create full access and equitable opportunities for all people with disabilities and the families who provide assistance towards the ideal of an all-inclusive society. I am humbled, and this award is for them and all people with disabilities.”
ROLLING INSPIRATION is delighted and proud to congratulate Marlene on this massive achievement and to thank her for her dedication to improving life for people with disabilities. May she continue to do wonderful work and inspire a nation.