Known to many for his appearances at Unity Theatre in its heyday and television in later years, Bill Ward became the circulation manager of the Transport and General Workers Union journal, `The Record’ for 15 years.
He was an army despatch driver and lost a leg in the Second World War. Despite this, he resumed performing at Unity as soon as he was able, becoming an Equity member in the process. Radio work followed, although he is best remembered as Owen the socialist in a six month run of the `Ragged Trousered Philanthropist’. One of his last parts was the central character in `The Scavengers’, by Arthur Adamov, in 1963; but his disability restricted the parts he was able to perform and he resolved to find other work to buttress his earnings, the `Record’ job being for three days a week.
He formed Disabled Action, starting by sending a questionnaire to every single MP, then to all large employers, such as the BBC and government ministries. The data he collated, especially of the percentage of disabled employed, was useful in embarrassing some into action. Equity formed a committee which successfully began to persuade casting directors to use disabled actors for parts that did not call for such, as a means of showing a realistic range of humanity. A life-long Communist, Bill Ward died aged 65 of leukaemia on April 25th 1986.
Source: Morning Star 6th May 1986