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Sam Renke's Story

To mark our 30th anniversary, we’re releasing 30 stories from wheelchair users across our history.

This ambitious and historic project will result in stories being archived as part of the The British Library Sound Archives ensuring that the life experiences of wheelchair users today are captured forever..With thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The British Library for their support.

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Perhaps most widely known for her appearance in that Maltesers ad, Sam Renke describes herself as a “feisty, confident, fierce character”. She certainly lives up that billing in these audio highlights! 

Sam is brutally honest about the codependent relationship with her mother that arose after the sudden death of her father when she was just nine years old. She talks about ‘cripping up’ in the media and experiencing imposter syndrome on live TV, everyday activism and the backlash on social media.

Sam’s interview is the most outrageous of the 30 Stories Whizz-Kidz recorded in partnership with the British Library to celebrate our 30th Anniversary. We’ve pulled out a few quotes from each clip to give you a flavour. Stick on your headphones and buckle up if you want to hear the rest...

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Acting - Listen to a clip here 

“I was very much a ‘jazz hands’ child"

“People just don’t expect disabled people to be deviant”

“It’s a struggle because there’s so many… attitudinal and physical barriers”

“Why would a child dream of being an actor if you don’t see anyone in a wheelchair?”

Media - Listen to a clip here 

“...there’s been a few films recently that have been ‘cripping up’”

“People like me aren’t even being invited to the audition. We need a level playing field.”

“The media likes to say that these are acceptable forms of disabled people, for example someone who has maybe acquired a disability, so they look non-disabled but are in a wheelchair.”

“We need to see a plethora of disabled people on television, not just what we deem as socially acceptable or non-threatening disabled people on our screens.”

“We also need to unpack all this unconscious bias and negative stereotypes that have been, you know, put into society over years, you know, this ableism these small micro-aggressions. And we’re only going to be able to do that once we stop seeing disability as a dirty word.”

Imposter Syndrome  - Listen to a clip here 

“I remember I was sat on a Sunday Morning Live, sat there thinking ‘What the hell am I, I don’t know what I’m doing; why do they want me here - there’s other people that can be so much better’.”

Disability Led TV - Listen to a clip here 

“Why can’t we have a show where every single person has a disability in it?... And equally why can’t we have a show that is solely on fashion that is nothing to do with having a disability?”

Broken Bones - Listen to a clip here 

“I had to lie a lot as a child when my older sister accidentally broke bits of my body.”

“I’ve definitely got a Kardashian bottom now, which is not a bad thing cos I’ve only got small boobs. You’ve got to have something, you know?”

“I’m pretty sure my sister, you know, constantly tried to kill me.”

“...there was a lot of resentment for many years between me and my sister. And that’s quite sad, I’m so grateful we’re on the right path now.”

Would you like to have more content on sibling relationships? Let us know on our Facebook group.

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Support For Activists - Listen to a clip here 

“Someone Tweeted saying the ‘Disabled people feel pushed into activism because that’s the only way they can see change.’ And that’s definitely what I feel at times.  I came into activism because I wanted to be an actor and I wasn’t getting roles, so I was like, how am I going to change that for me. Very selfish reasons.” 

“…at the moment being an activist I’m actually getting a lot of anger directed towards me.”

Everyday Activism - Listen to a clip here 

“All I need to do as an activist with a disability is get up and have a day, make myself dinner and be me. Because sometimes when you have a disability there’s so much that goes on like pain, like fatigue, mental health concerns, not feeling like you belong. So even just getting up and going shopping, or going for coffee with a friend - that is a form of activism in my eyes.”

“I am a bubbly… cheeky, northerner and I’m just living my life and I don’t need to do anything profound to show my activism, I just need to be there as a fabulous confident person with a disability.”

Inaccessible Housing - Listen to a clip here 

“It saddens me, it angers me because these simple adaptations can be easily done”

“Making things accessible doesn’t just benefit people like me, it benefits the whole of society”

“It saddens me that, you know, technology is so advanced in so many ways, yet we’ve got housing that is below any form of access standards”

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For Kidz

For Families

For Supporters

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