Pioneering doctor wins £5,000 grant from TalkTalk for unique charity that uses assistive technology to help disabled children play computer games

Games and disability charity founder will be honoured at House of Commons ceremony

Dr Mick Donegan is now in with the chance of winning the £10,000 grand prize

20 November 2012: Dr Mick Donegan of SpecialEffect has been named the winner of the TalkTalk Digital Heroes Award for the South East for his role using digital technology to help others.

Dr Donegan received the most votes in the South East of England and has joined 11 other regional winners hoping to be crowned TalkTalk’s national Digital Heroes Awards 2012 winner at an event held on Wednesday 28th November at the House of Commons in London.

The TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards, with Citizens Online, is the only awards of its kind to celebrate people who use digital technology to help their communities.  Dr Donegan’s nomination was supported by David Cameron MP and Homeland star Rupert Friend who is a Vice President of the charity started a fun campaign where people posed with “Vote For Dr Mick” posters.

As well as winning a technology grant of £5,000 for SpecialEffect towards the SpecialEffect Loan Library, Dr Donegan is now in with a chance of winning the grand prize of £10,000, which is judged by a panel that includes TalkTalk Chairman Sir Charles Dunstone and dotcom entrepreneur and UK Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox.

SpecialEffect is a unique charity doing whatever it takes to help people with disabilities to have a better quality of life. They work with each young person and lend them assistive technology, including adapted controllers, switches and gaze-controlled computers, allowing them to play computer games, make music and express themselves. Special Effect has built deep links with the Computer and Video Games Industry and has been supported by the members of industry charity. GamesAid for the last four years.

The charity is involved in brain-controlled technology and Dr Mick established the National Accessible Games Centre in Oxfordshire, which helps disabled people including injured soldiers and children to access technology, and maintains a database of games that can be controlled with assistive technology. The charity also created the world's first fully accessible games suite at the Helen and Douglas House Hospice and has won several local awards for its ground-breaking work.

Dr Mick said: “" ... I'm deeply grateful to every single one of my charity's friends and supporters who were kind enough to take the time to vote for me. The funding they've won for SpecialEffect will bring life-changing technology to some of the most severely disabled people in the South East of England. Not only this but we hope, its impact will not only be felt throughout the UK but, in turn, across the Globe

Nick Streeter, who nominated Dr Mick, said: “As a parent who has been involved with SpecialEffect since it launched in 2007, I am delighted that Dr Mick’s work to help children like my daughter and many other people with disabilities is being recognised with this award.”

Dido Harding, TalkTalk CEO, said: “We were delighted to see so many deserving causes in this years TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards, and would like to congratulate Dr Donegan, as well as our other 11 regional winners.”

Judge Martha Lane Fox, of Go ON UK, said: “It is always a pleasure to see the different ways people are using technology to bring about positive social change, and this year’s awards featured some fantastic projects.”

John Fisher, Chief Executive of Citizens Online, said: “I am looking forward to meeting our twelve regional Digital Heroes at the House of Commons on Wednesday, and finding out who won the overall Digital Hero award. The competition helps shine a light on some very innovative projects.”

The Twitter hashtag for the awards is #digitalheroes.


Games PressGames Press is the leading online resource for games journalists. Used daily by magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, online media and retailers worldwide, it offers a vast, constantly updated archive of press releases and assets, and is the simplest and most cost-effective way for PR professionals to reach the widest possible audience. Registration for the site and the Games Press email digest is available, to the trade only, at www.gamespress.com.