The founder of a charity supporting people with multiple sclerosis is to retire after 33 years of helping others.
Val Woods and her husband, Rex, who has multiple sclerosis (MS), founded the MS Therapy Centre in Bedford, and running it from a small industrial unit.
Today, the purpose-built centre in Barkers Lane, which relies solely on donations, provides a lifeline for the many people who visit for support, information and practical therapies to help them to self-manage their condition.
The building houses a hydrotherapy pool, physiotherapy suite, gym with exercise machines that can be used by disabled people, and therapy rooms for an MS nurse, pain therapy (APS) and complementary therapies.
Events to celebrate Val’s work included an afternoon tea attended by members of the centre, and a lunch for staff, volunteers and supporters of the charity.
Val, who has Charity Champion and MS Society Professional of the Year awards, was instrumental in the centre achieving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service - for the volunteers - and Big Society Award.
Val said: “I had such a wonderful 33 years running the MS Centre and met thousands of really inspirational people, both people with MS and professionals who were enabling people to live independent and useful lives. My retirement parties were both celebratory and sad, but I hope I have left the centre in good and safe hands to continue for the next 33 years.”
Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis, a patron, said: “On behalf of the people and their families who live successfully with an MS diagnosis because of the momentous work of Val Woods over many years, I would like to thank Val sincerely for her tenacity, dedication, compassion and creativity in establishing this important centre in our midst.
“Her legacy will continue to help and motivate for generations to come, and I wish her my sincere best wishes for a happy and fulfilled retirement. Thank you Val.”
Mrs Nellis and Val also presented a retirement gift to John Chasey, one of the 50-strong team of valued volunteers, who has been involved with delivering oxygen therapy to people with MS for more than 20 years.
Anyone with MS living in Bedfordshire or Northamptonshire can use the services and are welcome to contact the centre on 01234 325781.