Swansea University has awarded an honorary degree to Rosaleen (Rosie) Moriarty-Simmonds OBE, an inspiring campaigner for disability issues and a champion of equality.

The award was presented to Mrs Moriarty-Simmonds today (17 December 2018) at the University’s degree ceremony for the College of Human and Health Sciences.  

Rosie Moriarty-Simmonds was born in 1960 without arms or legs after her mother was prescribed Thalidomide during her pregnancy.  She attended Treloar School, the only school in the UK to offer an academic education for students with disabilities at that time, and she graduated with a BSc in Psychology from Cardiff University in 1985.

She worked in the Civil Service, at Companies House, for several years, rising to Executive Officer level before in 1995, establishing RMS Disability Issues Consultancy.

She was one of the leading campaigners for the creation of the Thalidomide Memorial in Cathays Park, Cardiff, to commemorate the victims of Thalidomide and those who fought for them, and she made the opening speech at the unveiling of the monument in 2016.

She also leads the Thalidomide Memorial Campaign, which aims to mark the lives and achievements of Thalidomide-impaired people in the UK and all those touched by the tragedy.

As a Vice-President of the Cardiff Business School she has brought disability and equality issues to the attention of many eminent members of the south Wales business and entertainment world.

In addition to her business and campaigning roles, she is a member of the Mouth and Foot Painting artists.  She is also an accomplished media presenter, actor and author and in June 2007 she completed and published her autobiography – Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes. This was re-published in 2009 with her story continuing through her blog.

In 2017 she was appointed as an ambassador for the Disability Wales ‘Embolden’ campaign, a campaign aimed at highlighting the achievements of deaf and disabled women in Wales, and providing role models for disabled girls. 

She delivered Swansea University’s Annual Equality and Diversity lecture in April 2018.

On receiving her award, Rosie Moriarty-Simmonds said: “Education, as one of life’s key skills, should be available to all.  It goes in tandem with an individual’s desire to achieve the best outcome to which he or she can aspire.

Having worked, and supported people with differing abilities in the educational and work spheres, I am committed to the principles of equality and diversity.  These principles underpin the existence of a fair society.

Swansea University is renowned for embracing these vital principles, and I look forward to helping the University further develop its strong ethos in this field.”