WITH the 25th annual Disability Awareness Day just two weeks away a whole host of activities are planned leading up to the big event.

Warrington Disability Partnership is celebrating its 25th birthday in 2016 and with that milestone also comes the 25th incarnation of its flagship event, Disability Awareness Day.

A series of events have been lined up in the run up to the Disability Awareness Day in the town centre and at Walton Gardens.

DAD Week itself has been running for the last 17 years – WDP cofounder and chief executive Dave Thompson explained its origins.

He said: “Once the Disability Awareness Day showground started to grow we got into a situation where we realised that marquees were being put up on the Monday and were lying dormant until the Sunday.

“We started to offer them out to local voluntary groups and partners and then started doing some stuff ourselves.

“Disability Awareness Day isn’t a massive fundraiser for WDP, but it’s about working together and giving people the opportunity to come and enjoy.

“Some people say they get as much enjoyment out of DAD Week as they do on the day.”

Disability Awareness Day 25 will officially be launched in the town centre on Saturday July 2, with a free arts showcase featuring some of the country’s top disabled performers running in Old Market Place from 10.30am-4.30pm.

On Tuesday July 5, Frogtastic in the Park at Walton Gardens will feature Amy Winehouse and Rod Stewart tributes acts in an event aimed at people who have learning difficulties plus their friends and families.

Wednesday July 6 will see Walton Gardens taken over by 5 Boroughs NHS Foundation Trust with a free day of workshops and activities before the Mayor of Warrington’s Evening of Cultural Diversity.

Warrington’s new Mayor Cllr Faisal Rashid will present an array of culture from across Europe, Asia and Africa with tickets priced at £10.

A packed line-up on Thursday July 7 welcomes the Carers Tea Party in the Park, the Children’s Party in the Park and the Concert in the Park featuring Wingate’s Brass Band to Walton Garden.

The Disability Awareness Day Mega BBQ will take place on Friday night, with food and a quiz included in the £8 ticket price plus a licensed bar and auction.

On Sunday July 10, the big day itself then takes place between 10am-5pm.

Dave paid tribute to a DAD’s army of volunteers who work so hard to make the whole thing possible.

He said “This year we’ve got a team, a DAD’s army of volunteers, on the day with about 80 stewards and another 40 supports but during the week we’ve got a small team of about 15 to 20 of us that put the whole showground together.

“They’re so important – we have people taking a week off work and volunteering in the rain, sleet, and sun.

“It’s a big ask and we worked out a couple of years ago that some of the team do 140 hours in 10 working days – we get on the park at 8am and don’t leave until 12.30am on some nights.

“On the Sunday we’re up there from 5.30am and don’t leave till 10.30pm.

“But they love it and we love it – for me it’s humbling to see people working so hard and giving so much just for the sake of a dream that was to run Disability Awareness Day.”

In the week running up to Disability Awareness Day we will be taking a look back on the event’s humble origins with Dave and preview all the goings on.

For more information on any of the DAD Week events call 240064.