Emma Purcell: news editor and feature writer at Disability Horizons

Two images of Emma Purcell - on the left 10 years ago at a party wearing a silver top and now a close up wearing a red hoodie

As part of our 10th birthday celebrations, some of our longest-serving team members are sharing their journey with Disability Horizons, from first discovering the publication to becoming invaluable to our organisation.

I’m Emma Purcell – news editor and feature writer at Disability Horizons. I joined the team way back in 2012 and have enjoyed some incredible experiences and met some amazing people over the years.

Emma Purcell joins the Disability Horizons community

Emma Purcell & Stephanie Castelete-Tyrrell at college prom 2012

I discovered Disability Horizons in the summer of 2012 while I was studying my A-Levels at college. I was introduced to the publication by a mobility officer who was helping me learn to use a white cane. Although, sadly, I never succeeded in using a cane, I did find an awesome community I wanted to be part of.

After having browsed the website, I saw that there was a call out for writers. So I emailed and pitched the idea of writing an accessibility review of Reading Festival, which I had attended that year.

This was also the year of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the then-new show The Last Leg on Channel 4. It was the first TV programme I had seen that focused on and included disabled people, so I pitched to write a review about this too.

The Last Leg was published on 3rd September 2012 and was my first ever published writing anywhere. This was soon followed by my Reading Festival piece.

Over the next six years, I became part of Disability Horizons’ pool of community writers, publishing various pieces about entertainment, technology and travel – all while completing my A-Levels, studying my journalism degree and seeking employment.

Emma Purcell’s celebrity interviews

In 2018, I was offered the opportunity to organise, conduct and publish interviews with various well-known disabled people.

My first ever interview was with BBC weather presenter Lucy Martin. The interview was published in January 2018 and racked up 10,000 views in the first few weeks, which was outstanding. To this day, it is still one of the most popular articles on Disability Horizons.

I’ve gone on to interview tons of incredible individuals and celebrities. I was particularly starstruck speaking on the phone to Ade Adepitan and Alex Brooker, who were both really nice and fine gentlemen.

It feels surreal to think that I have the phone numbers and emails of people I’ve seen on TV or in films. Here are just a few of the other interviews I’ve published over the past couple of years:

 Emma Purcell becomes news editor

Latest news - round

With a key aim to reach more disabled people and their families, from around 2019 I became Disability Horizons’ news editor.

In a nutshell, this basically means watching, listening to and reading the news and sourcing stories that are disability-related, mostly positive and, most importantly, hot topics.

Since then, I’ve published almost 100 news stories on almost everything, including entertainment, travel, politics, business, education, sport and much more.

Here are a few of the news stories that bought record levels of traffic to our website:

Emma Purcell attending disability events

As well as all the remote work I do (we all work from home, making Disability Horizons truly flexible and accessible), 2019 was the year I got the opportunity to attend events and represent Disability Horizons in person.

In February, I went to a press launch of the Team Brit disabled race car team to speak to the drivers and watch the cars in action on the racetrack.

The following month, I went to London to attend the Outstanding Attitude Awards, which celebrates the best accessible music venues, something I am really passionate about.

A week later, I went up to Birmingham to attend Naidex, Europe’s biggest disability exhibition, where I finally got to meet Martyn, Liz and Zubee from the Disability Horizons team in person.

Zubee, Liz and Emma at Naidex 2019

There was so much to see, discover and explore about technology and accessibility, but the most amazing part of the trip… I met Warwick Davis!

Emma Purcell & Warwick Davis at Naidex 2019

In the summer of 2019, I was invited to the Belle Aire Holiday Park in Norfolk to review its new accessible caravan.

My friend and I spent the weekend there, chilling in the caravan, trying out the entertainment, food and bar and had a couple of trips to the beach. Check out my video highlights at Belle Aire Holiday Park:

I do hope to attend many more events and adventures once this pandemic is over.

Emma Purcell and the Disability Horizons Shop

Another milestone moment for Disability Horizons was the launch of our online shop that sells a carefully curated range of disability living aids from reputable suppliers.

I helped upload the first products when the shop was in its infancy and have gone on to help put together posts about disability living aids, mobility aids and accessible gifts. Here are a few examples:

I also recently purchased myself a Hydrant water bottle from the Disability Horizons Shop, which has been life-changing. It has a long tube with a biting valve that can clip to your clothing. It means that you can simply bite and drink without using your hands.

Emma Purcell with Hydrant water bottle bite valve and tube in her mouth

Personally, this is incredibly useful for me because I only have the use of one arm, so now, I can type at my computer while drinking. Before the Hydrant water bottle, I would only drink about 600ml of water a day. Now I’m drinking up to two litres a day.

So not only has Disability Horizons supported me professionally but it has also made a difference to my health and wellbeing!

Emma Purcell becoming a freelance journalist and blogger

In addition to everything I do at Disability Horizons, I’ve also been running my blog Rock For Disability since December 2017. I write personal stories about living with cerebral palsy and being registered blind, advice pieces and lifestyle articles – some of which have also been published here on Disability Horizons.

I also have a big passion for rock music and regularly attend gigs and festivals (pre-Covid). On my blog, I also publish live music reviews, album reviews and interviews with bands and artists.

Moreover, since November 2018, I’ve been a Champion for the social enterprise AccessAble, in which I create blog and video content to promote accessibility and the use of AccessAble’s Detailed Access Guides.

Emma Purcell with AccessAble at Naidex 2019

My goal for the next 10 years is to become a full-time freelance journalist working with Disability Horizons, AccessAble and maybe many other publications and broadcasters.

Happy 10th Anniversary Disability Horizons!

By Emma Purcell 

You can follow Emma Purcell on Facebook and Twitter @P94Emma.

More on Disability Horizons…

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