Lewes actress a role model for people with disabilities

Changing perceptions ... Sarah Gordy is busy in rehearsal for her leading role in the new play Jellyfish. Photograph: SnootyFox
Changing perceptions ... Sarah Gordy is busy in rehearsal for her leading role in the new play Jellyfish. Photograph: SnootyFox

Sarah Gordy, from Lewes, has been made an MBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the arts and people with disabilities.

As an actress with Down’s Syndrome, she has become a successful dancer, model, public speaker and campaigner for people with disabilities.

She is a widely recognised role model for changing perceptions of people with Down’s Syndrome through her successful TV and stage work, playing both characters with disabilities and recently breaking new ground by playing those without.

Alongside this, 41-year-old Sarah has also campaigned for increased diversity within the arts, and has volunteered with a range of charities for many years.

She has been the Disability Liaison Officer for her local branch of Equity, the actors’ union, since 2015, and has championed disability rights by working with Mencap since 2010 on a range of campaigns, becoming their first celebrity ambassador with a learning disability in 2013.

She has spoken out against bullying and in favour of diversity in the media, and promoted Learning Disability Week and increasing the representation of disabled actors at the Oscars.

She is a patron of Circus Star, a not-for-profit circus troupe which brings disadvantaged and disabled children and their families a fun day out.

Finally, she has been photographed for Mencap’s 2016 HereIAm campaign, and for the Down Syndrome Association’s Shifting Perspectives campaign.

She told Good Housekeeping: “I am so surprised and thrilled… I am hoping it will be an inspiration to young people with disabilities and their parents.”

Sarah, a former student at Sussex Downs College in Lewes, is best known for her portrayal of Lady Pamela Holland in the 2010 BBC TV series of Upstairs Downstairs.

Lady Pamela was the long-lost sister of the lead character, Sir Hallam.

Part of her role was written to illustrate the 1930s attitudes to disabilities She has also acted in episodes of Call the Midwife, Holby City and Doctors.

Sarah is currently busy in rehearsals for her leading role in Jellyfish, a new play that opens at the Bush Theatre in London on June 27.

Jellyfish is the story of a first kiss, chips by the beach and coming of age with Down’s Syndrome in a seaside town.

Also honoured by The Queen in being made an MBE was Stephen Mark Saunders, from Lewes, for services to the telecommunications industry and business.