A disability rights campaigner from Abbots Langley joined a panel of four media luminaries at a comedy festival debate at the weekend.

On Sunday, campaigner and communications coach Julie Howell, from Long Elms, appeared at Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival to debate whether or not disability is an acceptable topic for comedy.

The debate, which was entitled Funny Bones, was hosted by University of Leicester’s Arts Centre and was chaired by actor and writer Gareth Berliner.

Ms Howell was joined on the panel by disability activist and broadcaster Mik Scarlet, TV producer Gina Lyons and TV presenter Alex Brooker.

Ms Howell, now 43, was diagnosed with MS when she was 19-years-old. She has received five major awards for her work as a disability rights campaigner and mentor, including Brighton University’s Alumnus of the Year Award in 2012 when she was chosen from a pool of 115,000 graduates of the university in recognition of her work in the community.

Most notably, Julie established an award-winning online community of people with multiple sclerosis in 1995.

Julie is now a public speaking and confidence coach.

Ms Howell said: "I was really honoured and delighted to be asked to share my views at this very important debate. Disabled people have come in for a bashing in the press lately, with many of us being unfairly labelled as scroungers.

"At the debate I called on disabled people to remind the world what we are capable of. While money is essential and disabled people are once again being made to suffer appalling poverty as a result of the government’s benefits reforms it’s important we also remind ourselves how to live happy and fulfilled lives however and whenever we can."