At just 18 years old, Michael was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, a degenerative muscle wasting disease. Nineteen years later, Michael became the first disabled person to lead expeditions to both the North (April 2002) and the South Poles (Jan 2004).
The start of Jan 2022 saw Michael push past 620 days of shielding, being cautious and vigilant since March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Drawing strength from his adopted life credo ‘Quant Je Puis’ meaning ‘As Much As I Can’ (from his old Jesuit school alma mater) and his ‘RISK’ lockdown lessons [R = Resilience, I = Inspiration, S = Survival and K = Kindness], Michael uses his experiences as a powerful force for change and survival but also to highlight the need for greater compassion and kindness in today’s new world. His strength as a speaker lies in his emotional force and ability to move people to a place of action.
A proud Oxford Brookes alumnus, Michael planted his university flag in Antarctica at 90⁰ South, in addition to other key sponsors that included DHL, Hilton Hotels and Virgin. Despite altitude sickness, the unforgettable “Babe, I’m here!” phone call from the South Pole to his wife in Hertfordshire (UK) will live on forever!
Recognised by the Queen in 2004 for his 'contribution to national life', Michael was included in the Christmas Day broadcast to the nation by Her Majesty reinforcing diversity as a strength. Nominated by Sainsbury’s national campaign, Michael was selected as one of the London 2012 Paralympic Torchbearers proudly carrying the flame upright in his chariot (powerchair) on one of its final legs to the Olympic Stadium.
Following his record breaking pole2pole expeditions, his first public address was at BAFTA in London. A sought-after speaker, public and private sector organisations have been inspired, motivated and moved and since COVID-19, Michael’s virtual engagements on topics such as resilience, leadership, courage, change, and risk are in demand. Standalone presentations on his unique insights and experiences from an ‘Inspired by 2012’ charity programme that was two years in the planning, officially endorsed by Lord Coe and LOCOG, as featured on BBC News and the Channel 4 Paralympic Breakfast show (twice!) that changed the lives of 75 vulnerable young people and their families from across the UK continue to inspire audiences.
Michael is one of those rare speakers who openly gives of himself – full of energy and charisma, he has delivered >18 keynotes for different NHS Trusts across the UK. He has shared his story and life learning’s with academic institutions, schools and places of learning to inspire young people and motivate future generations. Michael was invited to close Europe’s largest 2018 TEDx event themed ‘Dare to Defy’ at the University of Warwick – his talk revealed a vulnerability in him that’s never been shared publicly.
In 2003, Michael founded The Muscle Help Foundation (MHF), a multi award-winning national family-centred charity delivering transformational experiences in the UK called Muscle Dreams for children & young people (8-28yrs) with muscular dystrophy. As a result of COVID-19, MHF repurposed with a new suite of virtual, online therapeutic programmes designed to support its community. As of Jan 2022, the charity has delivered 424 interventions, with the goal to reach 657, one for every muscle in the human body! Affectionately known as the Chief Muscle Warrior, MHF’s work is Michael’s mission and life purpose.
Michael has been included on the Power 100 list as one of Britain’s most influential people with a disability for the past 4 years. Within the UK-wide charity sector, he also received the respected Inspiring Communicator 2016 CharityComms National Award. September 2018 saw Michael receive an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the University of Hertfordshire in recognition of his motivational and inspirational work for persons with a disability. In July 2019, he was appointed to represent the Crown as a Deputy Lieutenant (DL), a voluntary role, in the county of Hertfordshire.
“Michael is an outstanding and inspiring speaker. He joined our top leaders conference and delivered a powerful, inspiring, and thought-provoking address. We were captivated by his journey, the way he navigated and thought about the (often huge) difficulties he faced and the adversity he has overcome. He really challenged us all to think outside of the box about the journey we face together and how we will achieve our goals.
His story really resonated with our leaders; it was witty, imaginative, and often emotional – and presented with panache. The standing ovation was simply testament to the emotion and connection he reached with all of the audience..”
“Michael is an inspirational and motivational orator, and it was an honour to have him wrap up our managers conference. Michael skilfully wove our themes of leadership, change, agility and courage into the experiences of his fascinating adventures; he not only left us wanting to hear more, but he also left a lasting and powerful impression on everyone in the room. I have already had requests to have him back again! Great job Michael - thank you!”
“Michael is an inspiration.”
“Excellent, bang on message, inspiring.”
“Michael is a fascinating speaker with great passion, clarity, and a wonderful ability to engage an audience.”