Sunderland businessmen named as one of the most influential in the country

Gary McFarlane has been named as one of the most influential disabled campaigners.
Gary McFarlane has been named as one of the most influential disabled campaigners.
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A WEARSIDE entrepreneur has been named among the most influential disabled people in the country.

Gary McFarlane has helped develop a smartphone app for disabled shoppers and is a tireless motoring campaigner.

He now takes his place on the “influence index,” alongside luminaries including physicist Stephen Hawking and former paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

Drawn up by the Disability News Service (DNS) website, The List of 224 figures aims to highlight some of the many disabled people who make a difference in modern Britain.

“It was a complete surprise when I found out I was on the list,” said Gary, from Ashbrooke.

“It’s important that people have role models.”

The 42-year-old, who suffers from restricted limb movement, is co-founder of the assist-Mi smartphone app, which alerts retailers when the person is arriving, allowing an assistant to take their order straight to their car.

Gary was ranked 145 on The List, which was largely based on public “suggestions”.

The dad-of-three is also trustee of Disabled Motoring UK (DMUK) and a member of Intelligent Transport Systems UK’s inclusive mobility interest group.

“I was really delighted to be elected as a trustee of DMUK, as the work of the national charity in helping disabled people stay mobile is really close to my heart,” he said.

“DMUK campaigns on Blue Badge abuse, hospital parking provision and access to towns and city centres.

“I look forward to doing my part in ensuring the charity continues to campaign on issues that affect disabled motorists.”

John Pring, editor of DNS, which specialises in disabled issues, said: “I hope The List will spark discussion about the disabled people who influence how we think and feel, how we live, and how we are governed.”