Artscape CEO Marlene Le Roux honoured by Queen Elizabeth II

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has today, 7th February 2018, recognised Marlene Le Roux, of South Africa as the 5th Commonwealth Point of Light in honour of her exceptional voluntary service promoting disability rights in South Africa.

In the lead-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London on 19-20 April, Her Majesty the Queen – as Head of the Commonwealth – is thanking inspirational volunteers across the 52 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond. By sharing these stories of service, the Heads of Government meeting will celebrate inspirational acts of volunteering across the Commonwealth and help inspire others to make their own contribution to tackling some of the greatest social challenges of our time.

Marlene​ 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, she mentors company executives and government institutions on how to improve the working conditions of disabled employees.

As an activist for both able and disabled people, she shares her journey with other women that are going through similar experiences and sits on the President’s disability panel. She is currently CEO of Cape Town’s Artscape Theatre Centre, Cape Town’s biggest theatre, and is the first woman of colour to hold this title. Each Commonwealth Point of Light will receive a personalised certificate signed by Her Majesty the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth. The award for Marlene will be presented to Marlene 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 while representing South Africa is a privilege.

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 illuminates the civil and political will needed to create full access and equitable opportunities for all people with disabilities as well as their families.” 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.” The Commonwealth is a diverse community of 52 nations that work together to promote prosperity, democracy and peace. The Heads of Government meeting will bring together leaders from all the 52 Member countries to reaffirm common values, address shared global challenges and agree how to work to create a better future for all citizens, especially young people. Voluntary service is a vital part of this agenda, which is why Her Majesty the Queen has chosen to recognise outstanding volunteers across the Commonwealth in this special way. – ENDS

For more information, please contact Isabel Potgieter, Spokesperson, British High Commission, South Africa on 0833911606 or Notes to Editors: ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH POINT OF LIGHT AWARD 1. The Point of Light awards recognise outstanding volunteers every day of the week – people whose service is making a difference in their communities and whose story can inspire others to creative innovative solutions to social challenges in their own communities and beyond. 2. Points of Light began in America under President George H. W. Bush and today over 6,000 US Points of Light have been recognised. The scheme has the support of all living US Presidents. 3. Since 2014 the UK Prime Minister has been recognising a daily Point of Light from the UK, with almost 900 now recognised. 4. Commonwealth Points of Light is a continuation of this programme – with a special series of awards recognising inspirational volunteers throughout the Commonwealth in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London in April. One volunteer will be recognised from each of the Commonwealth countries in the 52 week days preceding the Heads of Government meeting. 5. More information can be found on the website:​ About the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

In April 2018 the UK will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, where leaders from across the Commonwealth will gather in London and Windsor. With the theme of ‘Towards a Common Future’ they will work to create a more prosperous, secure, sustainable and fair future for the Commonwealth’s 2.4 billion citizens, particularly its young people. For further information visit​ ​​ or follow on Twitter @commonwealth18​.

Cape Times article – 08 February 2018.