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6th Jul, 2022

Illness will not stop budding barrister who is determined to make world better for those with disabilities

Laura Kearns 9th Aug, 2019 Updated: 9th Aug, 2019

SERIOUS illness is not stopping a determined budding barrister who hopes to make the world a better place for those with disabilities.

Rhys Brown has severe epilepsy and myalgic encepalomyelitis – also known as chronic fatigue syndrome – but refuses to let the conditions destroy his dream.

The 25-year-old from Warwick is unable to work but is set on helping those with disabilities in his own way.

He has been approved to study law at Birkbeck College in London, where he hopes to train to become a barrister so he can go on to represent those treated unfairly due to illness.

It follows his own ‘David and Goliath’ battle against a college where he was given a music scholarship at the age of 14.

After illness affected his education Rhys left school and later successfully sued the college for professional negligence and breach of contract.

But unlike most, he represented himself in court – having studied with the Open University – an experience which Rhys described as ‘life changing’.

Despite winning the tribunal, he incurred huge debts which were not covered by the payout he received.

And he is now hoping to use his experience in the courtroom to help others.

Rhys told the Observer: “Activism and legislation protecting human rights is worthless if we cannot actually implement it. The English justice system is completely inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t have resources in excess of a £1million.

“I am a man on a mission. A mission to use what was one of the most remarkable life experiences to revise the trajectory of my life as a disabled person, so that one day I can leave behind a legacy which will improve the lives of people throughout the country.”

Rhys also spoke in parliament about his experience of discrimination as a disabled student.

And while Rhys has battled for change, he has had a personal fight on his hands with his health.

His illness has left him with few friends and often hospitalised.

Epilepsy also caused the death of a close family member which left his own ‘mortality teasing his mind’.

But he is determined to make changes for himself and others with disability, and has started a fund-raising drive for the money needed to pay for his course. His £24,000 target would also fund living in London, as commuting three times a week would be physically too much.

Rhys added: “The Department of Work and Pensions has – rightly – declared me unfit to work which means I can’t contribute to costs through part-time employment.

“I will therefore be further investing in my health and wellbeing so that my legal studies are completely finished in four years I am capable of entering the workplace.

“I have nothing to draw on but my own burning desire to succeed. A burning desire to write a story that I hope will one day serve as an inspiration to all people with hidden disabilities that tells them so much can be achieved in the face of adversity.”

Visit www.gofundme.com/f/rhys-law-school-life to donate or find out more.

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