Art Makers, staff and trustees were joined by special guests including Clare Knowles and Sarah Greenside – Mrs Lawrence’s daughters, Cllr Carole Reid – Mayor of Knaresborough, and Cllr Michael Newby – Mayor of Harrogate to celebrate the launch. (Image credit: Andy Pearson)
We celebrated the renaming of a fitness centre for people with disabilities at Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre in Knaresborough last week. The newly christened Gillian Lawrence Activity Centre is named after a longstanding supporter and chair of Henshaws Trustee Board who passed away last year.
Speaking at the event, current Chair Howard Cockeram spoke of the impact Gillian Lawrence had on the charity during her time there. “Gillian skilfully chaired a large group of trustees who all had different views and helped them work together to drive Henshaws forward. We and all our service users are very grateful to her for the contribution she has made to our charity. She was a keen sportswoman and led a very active life so it is fitting that we remember her today through the naming of our Activity Centre.”
Maria Dawbarn, Centre Manager explained why the room has developed into an Activity Centre following on from its former use as a gallery.
“In recent years we’ve seen a real change in the kind of service we provide here. When we opened fifteen years ago around 70 people with disabilities used the Centre to take part in mainly arts and crafts based workshops. Today we offer employability training, health and wellbeing and multi-sensory workshops which are open to people with a much wider range of disabilities and complex needs. We now support over 150 people each week to gain independence and reach their true potential.”
“The Gillian Lawrence Activity Centre really is a fantastic inclusive space which all our Art Makers can use. It has H frame hoists so wheelchair users can join in at our monthly discos and use the climbing wall, plus loads of great fitness equipment for everyone.”
The facilities are already benefitting Art Makers like Daisy, 26, who uses the Arts & Crafts Centre twice a week. Daisy uses a wheelchair to get around and has very limited verbal communication so she brings her two personal assistants to help her advocate for herself.
Art Maker Daisy using the H frame hoist in the Gillian Lawrence Activity Centre
Daisy’s family and staff team recently helped raise the money to buy the new tracking hoist system in the Activity Centre. This has made a huge difference to Daisy as it means she can move around freely without her chair and choose where she wants to sit. Her physiotherapist has even designed exercises for her to do using the equipment here; helping her to strengthen her legs and improve her breathing.
For more information about our training programmes and workshops you can visit our Arts & Crafts Centre pages