Hawking tops poll as greatest disabled Briton
PROFESSOR Stephen Hawking has been voted the greatest disabled Briton of all time.
The world-renowned physicist was way above other popular heroes including poet Lord Byron, Admiral Nelson and even the legendary Second World War pilot Douglas Bader, scoring 35.4 per cent of the votes in a BBC poll.
Runner-up singer and songwriter Ian Dury polled 28.6 per cent.
Maria Eagle, Minister for Disabled People, said: "The public's choices show that disability is certainly no barrier to greatness. In fact, in a lot of cases it acts as a spur.
"There's a lesson to be learnt here that disabled people have as much, if not more, to offer society as anyone else."
Prof Hawking, 61, is Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University – a chair given to Isaac Newton in 1669.
When he was a PhD student at Cambridge he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, a crippling wasting disorder of the muscles and nervous system which is rapidly progressive and fatal – but he has defied all predictions of life expectancy.
Only a small percentage of people with the condition survive 10 years but Prof Hawking has been fighting the disease more than 30 years and is the longest- surviving MND sufferer in the UK.
Author of the world-renowned A Brief History Of Time, Prof Hawking is best known for Hawking radiation – the discovery that black holes are not really black but emit energy due to quantum virtual particles which constantly pop in and out of existence in a vacuum.
Top 10 greatest disabled Britons:
1 Professor Stephen Hawking
2 Ian Dury
3 Tanni Grey-Thompson
4 Douglas Bader
5 Sir Winston Churchill
6 David Blunkett
7 Mike Oliver, Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Greenwich
8 Lord Byron
9 Lord Nelson
10 King George VI