Celebrations took place on Thursday 18 May, as Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust marked 30 years of its Drive Ability North West service.
Photograph (L-R): Deborah Murgatroyd (Clinical Lead Occupational Therapist), Jabeen Bowes (Approved Driving Instructor), Ken Bullas and wife Gail Bullas.
Over this time, this free NHS service, which is commissioned by charity Driving Mobility and the Department of Transport, has benefitted countless people across the North West.
Being able to use a car is invaluable, and for many it’s essential to their wellbeing – especially people with restricted mobility or a disability.
Drive Ability North West’s Occupational Therapists and Approved Driving Instructors support people with medical conditions, disabilities, and those affected by old age, to drive safely and maintain or regain their independence as drivers or passengers.
The anniversary showcase at Haydock Park Racecourse was attended by staff and service users past and present, as well as healthcare and voluntary sector personnel, eager to discover how the service can help the people they care for.
Truly interactive, the day featured driving demonstrations, presentations, and a talk by Merseyside Police, who are working in partnership with the service on a new joint initiative supporting vulnerable road users to drive more safely.
Speaking at the occasion, Colin Scales, Chief Executive of Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said:
“Drive Ability North West is a prime example of how we as a NHS Community Trust work successfully in partnership with organisations like Driving Mobility and Merseyside Police, to deliver specialist services into the heart of our local communities.
“For the past 30 years this service has helped to improve the safety, independence and quality of life of so many people.”
It turned out to be a double celebration on the day, as Clinical Lead Occupational Therapist Deborah Murgatroyd celebrated her own 30 years of working for Drive Ability North West.
Praising the work of Deborah and her NHS colleagues, Ken Bullas, who was supported by the service to return to driving following a stroke, said:
“My wife contacted Drive Ability North West because we knew how important it was that I was still safe to drive.
“The staff really listened to our worries and after I’d been assessed, I was so happy when I was told I could still drive. I can’t walk very well, but having the car, it’s like a new chapter of life, it’s given me my independence.”
Jabeen Bowes, an Approved Driving Instructor at Drive Ability North West, added:
“It means a lot to have Ken here with us celebrating 30 years of the service.
“We go on a very important journey with our patients, and I really did with Ken. It’s so worthwhile when you can see the results of what you do and how you make a difference.”
For further information, please visit the Drive Ability North West website at bridgewater.nhs.uk/drive.