By Sarah Ping, PA
TV personality and model Christine McGuinness has helped to break the Guinness World Record for the longest lanyard to highlight the range of invisible disabilities that affect people.
The former beauty queen, who released her documentary Christine McGuinness: Unmasking My Autism last week, was at Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield stadium to take part in the record-breaking attempt.
The giant Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard, which is often worn by people who may need extra support, was confirmed as the new title-holder after the total length of 3,784.50 metres (12,416ft) was stretched around the stadium’s famous Kop terrace.
The previous record was held by the Hong Kong Girl Guides’ Association at 2,871m (9,419ft) for 23 years.
The record bid was designed to highlight the number of hidden disabilities that have an impact on day-to-day activities.
McGuinness and her three young children are autistic and rely on the lanyards when out of the home, with the ex-wife of comedian and TV presenter Paddy McGuinness saying wearing the identifier makes her family “feel more confident”.
“Me and my three children are autistic and all use the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard,” the 34-year-old said.
“It’s a brilliant way to show we need a little extra help when travelling or when we’re out and about. The lanyards make us feel more confident that we will receive support.
“There are 10 million of us out there in the UK with a hidden disability, so the sunflower lanyard makes a big difference.
“The more people who know that it symbolises the wearer has a hidden disability or health condition, the better.”
The record-breaking lanyard measures 12 times higher than the Shard in London and is long enough to be wrapped about Anfield more than 10 times.
Introduced in 2016, the sunflower-printed neck loop enables people to discreetly show their need for extra support, and has since become a globally recognised symbol for invisible disability.
Hidden Disabilities Sunflower chief executive Paul White said: “We are delighted to have broken the Guinness World Record.
“We created the longest lanyard to bring attention to the fact there are more than 800 hidden disabilities and health conditions that someone would consider using the sunflower for.
“Sunflower lanyards give people who live with these conditions the confidence to go out and live life. We know the lanyards are making a difference to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.
“We want the public to understand that sunflower lanyard wearers might just need a bit of extra help, time, understanding or support, and for them to have the confidence to ask someone wearing the sunflower, ‘do you need any assistance?’.
“Liverpool Football Club was one of the first sports organisations we worked with and has been exemplary in the rollout of lanyards for staff and supporters, as well as offering training to staff. It’s perfect that we are at Anfield to achieve the world record.”
Rishi Jain, senior equality, diversity and inclusion manager at Liverpool FC, said the club was “thrilled” to take part, adding: “We have implemented the lanyard across the club for any fans or staff who may need additional support whilst at our stadium or stores.
Guinness World Records adjudicator Glenn Pollard said: “Guinness World Records titles are not easy to achieve. It takes, amongst many attributes, dedication, skill, practice and good organisation to achieve such an accolade.
“It does mean, however, that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary feats.
“That is why I find it so impressive for the people of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower to have achieved this new record title – the longest lanyard – a record which has stood for more than 23 years.”