Small dog wanted in Garden of Eden

December 9, 2005

Name: Margot Chadwick

Age: 56

Job: Disability adviser. I advise students and applicants with disabilities, other than specific learning difficulties, about access to Cambridge University and its colleges. The job involves giving prospective applicants guided tours so they can decide if Cambridge is for them.

Salary: Not brilliant.

Background: Degree in chemistry from Sussex University. I was a schoolteacher for a year, then worked for four years in production for the chemical industry. After having three children, I joined the Citizens Advice Bureaux service as a volunteer adviser. I managed a bureau for six years.

Working hours and conditions: I work part time and flexibly. I have a great team of colleagues from various backgrounds so we have lots of ways of supporting one another.

Number of students you oversee: I have about 150 new students who have disclosed disabilities. Including second-years and third-years, I have contact with about 450 students. Some of those need a lot of support, some very little indeed.

Biggest challenge this year: Resisting two Labrador puppies that a colleague brought into the office.

How did you solve it? Put forward a well-argued case to the boss for a "therapy dog" in the office. It was unsuccessful.

Worst moment in university life: I did not really understand how Cambridge works when I was new here. I approached the master of a college about a matter that a senior tutor should have dealt with and got into rather hot water. I think I demanded that he find an adapted bathroom for a wheelchair user.

What is your working space like? Very good indeed. We have a state-of-the-art Disability Centre.

What university facilities do you use? Despite having an office opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum, I don't go there very often except to have lunch in their cafe.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Not much.

Most difficult customers: I couldn't possibly comment.

Best excuse for bad behaviour: Overworked?

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? All the time. Working with all departments and all colleges is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Wandering to a meeting through a college garden on a glorious sunny day I sometimes have to pinch myself to believe I'm at work.

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