A CHAMPION of people with learning difficulties has no intention of ever giving up fighting for their rights.
Audrey Rose, who will retire as a trustee of Heart of England Mencap next year after four decades, has been recognised with a special award and honorary lifetime role.
And in her new honorary vice-president role, Audrey will be as hands on as she has always been in supporting those in need of the charity’s help.
Audrey’s daughter Janet was born with learning disabilities. When the family moved back to the UK in the early 80s, having lived all over the world, she was invited to join Stratford & District Mencap, as the charity was then known.
When Audrey joined the charity it supported around 20 local people with learning disabilities. Today it supports around 200 across Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
Audrey, a member of the board of trustees, has volunteered huge amounts of time down the decades to help people with learning difficulties access opportunities previously thought impossible.
Audrey told The Observer: “When my daughter was younger, despite having lived in France, she wasn’t allowed to take French lessons.
“Things have changed enormously – people are now given an opportunity to develop their potential.
“There is still a way to go of course, particularly when it comes to people with learning disabilities being accepted in social situations. I would like to see that change. I also think the vulnerability of people with learning disabilities needs to be recognised more.”
In recognition of her service, Audrey has been presented with a long-service award and will be made honorary vice-president when she retires next year.
Heart of England Mencap chief executive Helena Wallis said: “Audrey’s outstanding contribution is one of the reasons why we wanted to recognise her work with us by making her a lifetime vice-president.
“It is a reflection of the value of her contribution to the charity and to those that we support. The voice of families and carers is also significant in the work we do and Audrey has played an important role in representing carers in a range of formal and informal settings and being able to support other parents in a very complex and challenging world for those connected to someone with a learning disability.
“What is more outstanding is her capacity for understanding the needs of others and for caring. I know Audrey isn’t someone that openly promotes all these personal strengths, or does things for any type of accolade. Her involvement and commitment is a reflection of her remarkable passion and personal values.
“Whilst Audrey doesn’t see anything special in this – we absolutely do.”
When the charity began, it was very much focused on providing residential living for local people with learning disabilities. Over the years, its services have adapted and expanded considerably.