The BBC ‘Countryfile’ and ‘The One Show’ presenter was the final speaker on the Main Stage on the opening day Volunteer Expo Online, which attracted thousands of online visitors from across the world.
Steve, who became paralysed in 2005 when he fell from a balcony and broke his neck, later found a new lease of life when he was introduced to wheelchair rugby. He’d go on to captain Great Britain and the London Paralympic Games in 2012.
And since retiring from elite sport, Steve has become a regular broadcaster on our TV screens, working on a host of programmes.
In 2017, he embarked on a 900-mile journey alongside five other people with different physical disabilities for the BBC programme ‘Without Limits: Vietnam’.
Steve spoke passionately and candidly about his life, pointing out how nobody can succeed on their own. He told the audience how volunteers had helped open his eyes to all kind of possibilities.
And at the culmination of his presentation, Steve announced he had accepted the role of becoming a Rotary ambassador.
We're excited to officially welcome Paralympian and broadcaster, Steve Brown (@SteveBrownGBWR) as a Rotary ambassador!
— Rotary GB & Ireland (@RotaryGBI) May 13, 2021
Steve isn’t the only Paralympian with whom Rotary has a close connection. Polio survivors Ade Adepitan and Anne Wafula Strike, who competed in wheelchair basketball and racing respectively, are both ambassadors for Rotary’s polio campaign.
He said: “I am so excited to be asked to be a Rotary ambassador. I have always believed in paying it forward, doing what I can for other people.
“When I was younger and injured, I needed a sports wheelchair. It was Rotary that gave me the support and money to buy a wheelchair for my rugby. That memory has never left me.
“Rotary supports so many great causes, so many great projects around the world, for all manner of reasons, but those set of wheels which were bought for me by Rotary wasn’t just an object, it was an opportunity.
When I was younger and injured, I needed a sports wheelchair. It was Rotary that gave me the support and money to buy a wheelchair for my rugby.”
“I would not be here without the wheels that carried me right through to the Paralympic Games.
“Now it’s my turn to turn things around. I want to do things for other people and that’s why I am so pleased to become an ambassador for Rotary.
“I would like to give my time to help as many people as possible, and where better to mention this than at Volunteer Expo – an event all about giving back.
“It’s my moment to give up some time, give up some energy to those who need it, and I can’t think of anywhere or anyone else that I would like to support more than Rotary.”
Steve is also supporting Rotary in promoting Thank You Day on Sunday 4th July this year, alongside some amazing organisations including the NHS, Royal Voluntary Service and the Scouts, as well as celebrity backers such as Michael Sheen, Tim Peake and Bear Grylls.
I want to celebrate the spirit that's got us through the last 18 months, and say a big thank you to everyone who helped us through.
That's why I'm joining in #ThankYouDay on Sunday 4th July this year. Let's make it the UK's biggest ever thank you party!
Pass it on! pic.twitter.com/pLWB9gzWdn
— Steve Brown (@SteveBrownGBWR) May 11, 2021
Thank You Day will give us all an opportunity to come together as society, and thank those who we are grateful for, be it friends family and neighbours, or key workers and volunteers who have kept our communities going during the pandemic.
“I’d start by saying thank you to my family. They’ve always been there for me through thick and thin.
“Secondly I’d like to thank all the volunteers at Wheelchair Rugby. The sport is built on a foundation of volunteers, from mechanics to referees, who give up their time to the sport for people to enjoy.
“Thirdly, I’d like to thank you to Lou, who was a cleaner at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. She always managed to say the right thing and keep things in perspective for me.
Hear more from Steve Brown
Want to hear Steve’s motivational and inspiring story as part of one of your events? Steve is available for bookings for both virtual and in person events. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or download this flyer.
You can also watch Steve’s full presentation and interview from Volunteer Expo Online, by logging in to our virtual event platform any time before June 8th. Simply sign up or log in, head to the Main Stage and watch the session on demand.