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South Africa

Commonwealth Point of Light 5. Marlene Le Roux

Marlene Le Roux, representing South Africa, has dedicated her life to community empowerment and disability rights, working closely with Archbishop Desmond Tutu to develop the ‘Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.’

Drawing on her own experiences of living with polio, as well as the recent death of her son after his diagnosis with cerebral palsy, she mentors company executives and government institutions on how to improve the working conditions of disabled employees.

The award for Marlene will be presented on the 7th February at the High Commissioner’s Residence in Cape Town during the annual Eve of Parliament reception by High Commissioner to South Africa, Nigel Casey, MVO.

Marlene said:

“The Commonwealth Point of Light Award bestowed upon me by Her Majesty the Queen is an honour I receive with gratitude and humility. The responsibility of being the 5th recipient for South Africa is a privilege.
“Serving and sharing my journey as a person with disability, and from a rural community upbringing by my mom and grandmother and their tenacity, is testament to the ideals for an inclusive and harmonious society. Furthermore, I have been given the opportunity to have had a son, Adam, with a disability, and this taught me about life challenges, especially mothers who nurture and the realities of the immense financial and logistical life tasks to be completed in order to be fully functional in society. My daughter Aimee embraces inclusivity and allows me to practice my social activism with her endless support and dedication.

“In South Africa, there were deep divisions along racial and gender lines under Apartheid. The acceptance of people with disabilities is an ever-changing and ever-evolving process in all societies. Historically, people with disabilities have been
excluded from the majority of meaningful activities in society, including access to education, health, and economic opportunities. This award I hope will illuminate the civil and political will needed to create full access and equitable opportunities for all people with disabilities and the families who provides assistance towards the ideals of an all-inclusive society.”

Nigel Casey, MVO, UK High Commissioner in South Africa said:

“I would like to congratulate Marlene on receiving this recognition for the wonderful work that she does. Not only is she an inspiration to persons with disability, but she is hugely respected as CEO of the ‘Artscape Theatre Centre’, Cape Town’s largest theatre. Marlene is hugely respected across the spectrum of South African society and is well known internationally. Well done Marlene on being South Africa’s Point of Light.”


Watch Marlene at work with disability performers with ‘Artscape Theatre’, Cape Town:

See more about the ‘Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation’

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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