Michael (Mike) Mackenzie Hon LLD held roles in many charities including The Poppa Guttmann Trust and took part in a variety of charity events and challenges.

The unveiling of the statue of Dr Guttmann outside the National Spinal Injuries Centre with Mike Mackenzie centre.
Image ©The Poppa Guttmann Trust

Early Life

After spending 21 years in the wine trade, Michael (Mike) Mackenzie changed direction and took on the role of Director of Operations for Scottish European Aid, an aid agency specialising in Eastern Europe. In 1993, while he was working in Bosnia, Mike was injured in a car accident with two colleagues. He had broken ribs, collapsed lungs, a damaged spleen that had to be removed, broken hands and a head injury. He also lost his left leg and severed his spinal cord, leaving him paralysed from chest level. Unfortunately neither of his colleagues survived the incident.    

He was treated at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital for 18 months before returning home to Scotland where he found life a great, but very possible, challenge. Later he lost his other leg.

Charity work

Spinal Injuries Together

In 2000 he became the Founding President of Spinal Injuries Together (SIT), remaining in that role until 2011. SIT brought together five UK spinal cord injury charities, Aspire, Back Up, Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), Spinal Injuries Scotland (SIS), and Spinal Research, to raise awareness of the life impacting effects of spinal cord injuries. Each May there is now a Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day 2023.

Motorsport Endeavour

From 2007 Mike was a Trustee and Director at Motorsport Endeavour, an organisation that organised motorsport trips and activities for former military personnel who had been permanently injured and psychologically scarred.

The Poppa Guttmann Trust

Mike was a Co-founder and Chairman of The Poppa Guttmann Trust from 2009. The Trust was established to increase recognition of Dr Guttmann’s pioneering work and as ‘a celebration of the legacy of this genius of a man’. 

When a life size bronze statue of Dr Guttmann, commissioned by the Trust and The Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) from sculptor Mark Jackson, was unveiled in 2012, Mike said:

It is because of Professor Guttmann's life-long dedication to the research and treatment of those with life-limiting injuries and disabilities that the Paralympic Games were founded, and why so many non-able bodied individuals are now able to enjoy such active and fulfilling sporting experiences. At long last the National Spinal Injuries Centre will have something to say who started it, how it was founded and when it was founded.

The Trust has also donated a clay bust of Dr Guttmann to the National Paralympic Heritage Trust, you can see it here. 

Bust of Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann donated by the Poppa Guttmann Trust

Donation of the bust of Dr Guttmann from the Poppa Guttmann Trust

Expert by Experience

In 2015, Mike became an Expert by Experience at the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Experts by Experience are people with experience of the services regulated by the CQC from the perspective of using them personally or as a carer.

Horatio's Garden

2016 saw Mike become a Patron of Horatio's Garden at the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville Hospital. The garden opened in 2018.

The Independent Monitoring Board

In 2016, he became a Board Member of The Independent Monitoring Board at the Ministry of Justice. These Boards monitor the treatment of those in custody for compliance with relevant rules and standards of decency to confirm it is fair, just and humane.


He was also a Trustee at Dive-able, an organisation set up to train disabled people to scuba dive.

Disability adviser

Mike was a disability adviser to hotels, retail outlets, schools, universities and health centres, and a motivational speaker.

Charity events

In addition to learning to ski, he participated in a wide range of charity events, taking part in wheelchair relays around the UK and from Paris to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. 

Around the World in Eighty Ways

A friend, Robin Dunseath, proposed an expedition to emulate the one completed by Phileas Fogg in the Jules Verne's novel, Around the World in 80 Days. In 2002, Mike, with Robin, Miles Hilton Barber who is blind and Caroline Casey who is partially sighted, set off to circumnavigate the world, aiming to inspire others to overcome physical disabilities and lead positive lives, naming the expedition Around the World in 80 Ways. 

The three-month journey saw them cover over 20,000 miles (32,187 km), visiting 15 countries, travelling from London through Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin, Nice, Monaco, Rome, Cairo, the Red Sea, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bombay, Delhi, Bangkok, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Washington, Las Vegas, New York, then back to London, using about 90 different forms of transport.  

Speaking engagements along the way enabled them to raise about £500,000, the money being donated to different local charities for the disabled.

In an interview with the Oxford Mail, Mike said: 

As I cannot use my stomach muscles for balance, the most difficult and worst parts of the journey were riding an ostrich and a camel. One of the most extraordinary was scuba diving in the Red Sea. We had taken some preliminary training before we left and completed our training out there. The challenge was to swim five miles under the sea and we managed 11 miles.

He also navigated a racing car with a partially sighted driver around the Malaysian Grand Prix circuit at 140 mph, flew in a hot air balloon in America, had a helicopter ride, sailed on a tall ship from Nice to Monte Carlo and rode an elephant in India.

The trip is documented in Around the World in Eighty Ways by Robin Dunseath, published in 2004 (ISBN 13: 9781843941194).

London 2012 Paralympic Games

Mike was selected as a torchbearer for the 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay.

In October 2012, Mike launched an appeal to buy equipment to help change the lives of young or newly disabled people through sport, saying: 

One of the things the Paralympics has done is break down barriers and had an astonishing effect on people’s attitude towards disabled people. I think grassroots support for disabled sport is vital for future Paralympics.

Mike died in Stoke Mandeville Hospital on the 8th of September 2022 at the age of 73.

His favourite facebook quote was: "The only limits in your life are those you accept yourself."


In July 2013, Mike was awarded Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D) by the University of Warwick. On facebook he said: "No hard academic work needed. A huge honour."