'They have seen the person and not the wheelchair' - disabled teenager lands job with FTSE 100 firm

A young high flier has proven disability need not be a barrier in the financial world by landing a job with a leading FTSE 100 company in England.

Rhys Joyce is a student at National Star College in Cheltenham, England, – a specialist unit for young people with complex disabilities and learning difficulties.

Last year he met Jonathan McMahon, joint chief operating officer of St James’s Place Wealth Management during a function at the college.

“We talked about the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and I explained that I had completed my Silver Award,” said Mr Joyce.

“Mr McMahon suggested I shadow him for a day at work which I was honoured to do.”

Rhys Joyce, a student from the National Star College in Cheltenham (Antony Thompson/PA)

The 19-year-old, originally from Bridgend, South Wales, has Duchennes muscular dystrophy which affects his mobility and he uses a power wheelchair.

Mr Joyce, who has recently completed a three-year BTEC Level 2 sport programme at the college, decided to approach St James’s Place about opportunities with the company.

Following an online interview and two face-to-face interviews he was accepted on a one-year contract at the head office, which will start in September.

“I couldn’t believe it when they told me. It has been a big inspiration of mine to be like everyone else and to have a job so that I didn’t have to take money off the state,” the teenager said.

St James’s Place has been working with National Star College and Mr Joyce to ensure the company’s office in Cirencester is accessible, and he is provided with the right equipment to help him in the role, including an electronic moving desk.

Mr McMahon said: “We’ve worked closely with Rhys to ensure the role suits him and his talents, and that he has all the support he needs to do a great job.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Rhys on his first day in the office and know he will make a valuable contribution to the company.”

St James’s Place has been a corporate supporter of the college, which is a national charity.

“For a number of years now, the team at St James’s Place, and myself personally, have witnessed the incredible achievements of the young people at National Star,” said Mr McMahon.

“The charity is passionate about enabling young people with disabilities to realise their aspirations, and this is something we fully endorse.”

Mr Joyce added: “I’ve been fortunate that St James’s Place has seen the person and not the wheelchair.

“It’s a great opportunity and I am grabbing it with both hands.”

- Press Association

 

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