Originally posted on 31 December 2020 at Denbighshire Free Press

Head of Clinical and Behavioural Services at Abbey School, Professor Sandy Toogood, is to be awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) after being included on the New Year Honours List.

Professor Alexander (Sandy) Toogood, an Honorary Professor at Bangor University’s School of Education and former senior lecturer in Behavioural Analysis, has been rewarded for services to people with intellectual disabilities.

Sandy leads on Clinical and Behavioural Services at Abbey School, a leading-edge school for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), with research support from Bangor University and the University of Warwick spanning the next ten years.

Sandy said: “Being notified of this award was quite a surprise. It has also been a stimulus for reflecting on the amazing work done every day by so many in our field.

“Adults and children with severe intellectual disabilities face many challenges in their lives. Among these is a significant risk of developing behaviour that is likely to limit their potential for development and growth and restrict opportunities for participating fully in society.

“We are in an improving situation, however, thanks to changing social attitudes and the more widespread use of positive and compassionate approaches to behaviour analysis by so many in our field. I am deeply humbled by the honour and look forward to serving my community to the best of my ability for years to come.

“Education has been key to unlocking the potential in people with intellectual disabilities and in society as a whole. Much remains to be done, however, and I am delighted to receive this award on the way to a better future for us all.”

Sandy Toogood joined Bangor University after moving to Wales in 1989. He was appointed Honorary Senior Research Fellow while working in the NHS on developing clinical and behavioural support services. He gained a PhD in behavioural psychology in 1996 before later, as Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology, helping to establish and teach the first BACB approved course sequence (MSc in ABA) in Europe.

During the 1980s Sandy contributed substantially to the development of the now globally renowned system of Active Support (enhancing quality of life and independence through participation in activity) before becoming deputy leader of the pioneering Special Development Team (a prototypical model for PBS services).

Sandy has been key figure in the development and dissemination Positive Behaviour Support in the UK and internationally and was made Honorary Professor within the College of Human Sciences in 2018.

Professor Carl Hughes, Head of School at the School of Education, Bangor University said: “I could not think of a more deserving recipient of this award. Sandy has tirelessly worked for people with intellectually disabilities throughout his whole career.

“It is difficult to quantify the impact Sandy has had with his clinical and academic work and his teaching. He has been an inspiration to hundreds of students over the years, and it is an absolute pleasure to count him as a mentor and friend.”