This weekend, we celebrated 30 years of one of our residential homes in Rickmansworth. The people we support decided the best way to celebrate this momentous occasion was by having a party!

All of the individuals at Beacon Way made the decision collectively but it is extra special for Laurie and Pauline, who both have learning disabilities and have been living at Beacon Way since it opened in 1989.

Laurie and Pauline moved to their first home at Beacon Way after living at Cell Barnes Long Stay Hospital since the ages of 10 and 14 respectively. Moving to Beacon Way was a huge change for them, as for the first time they were able to make their own choices. Our staff at Beacon Way supported them to choose their own decorations for their own room, what activities they would like to be involved in and goals they would like to work toward. Our staff made sure they chose how they wanted to be supported, the way they wanted to live and the things they wanted to do. Andrew who also moved to Beacon Way from Cell Barnes Long Stay Hospital that same year now lives at Monica Close, another one of our Southern services, and was the special guest at the celebration.

Laurie and Pauline can be described as key figures in the Rickmansworth community, they are heavily involved in local community groups and are well-known. While out and about in the community, as they often are going to activities, shopping or social events they are frequently greeted by members of the community. This is often much to the surprise and delight of some support workers who don’t know the people, but Laurie and Pauline certainly do.

It’s been a wonderful year at Beacon Way with Laurie celebrating his 80th birthday this summer and making a trip to the beautiful village of Walsingham to visit the place that influenced the name of our organisation that has supported him to gain so much independence and live his life to the full. Mark & Anne Snell, founders of what was previously known as Walsingham Community Homes were also honorary guests on Saturday. Our CEO, Paul Snell was also in attendance and presented Andrew, Laurie and Pauline with an engraved Walsingham Support photo frame and vouchers as a special gift to mark the occasion. Speaking to Pauline, she said it was “good to see Andrew”.

Beacon Way was one of the first of its kind in the local area in 1989 so it was important that it was received well by the community. Our staff carried out community engagement with neighbours, local organisations such as churches and other individuals to increase the understanding of individuals with learning disabilities and how they could enrich the community. The team at Walsingham Support worked with churches to build community links and create friendships, some of which still exist today.

Speaking to Laurie and Andrew, they both loved the cake and were excited to receive gifts. People are at the heart of everything we do, with every single member of our team making Walsingham Support a great place to be for the people we support and for their families. Petrina is one of these people, who started working at Beacon Way when it opened its doors 30 years ago. She said she “wouldn’t miss this celebration as it shows how far both the people we support, and the organisation has come in 30 years”.

We would like to thank everyone in the community for welcoming us in the way they have and for their continuous support to increase awareness and understanding of individuals with disabilities and how they form a value part of society.