New face at Huntingdonshire charity as it continues to help people live with disability

The Dish team, from left, Nicky Gilroy, Hilary Bayles, Jackie Newman, Michael O'Fee, and manager Aud

The Dish team, from left, Nicky Gilroy, Hilary Bayles, Jackie Newman, Michael O'Fee, and manager Audrey Gatford. - Credit: Archant

A charity providing support and advice for people with disabilities, their carers and parents of disabled children has a new manager.

Audrey Gatford has taken on the role at Disability Huntingdonshire, or Dish, based in Papworth Everard.

She said: “As a small charity it’s all about meeting the needs of our clients. The benefits scenario is changing constantly.

“For example, a lot of forms are now online and a lot of our clients do not have internet access or cannot afford broadband.

“It’s devastating for people to get letters from the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) announcing they have lost benefits.”

Ms Gatford has 15 years’ management experience, having been a deputy head and then a headteacher at primary schools in North London. She also specialisied in working with children with special needs.

After moving to Cambridge, she worked for a legal charity and went on to represent appeals in court. She has also worked with homeless people, asylum seekers and taught at a high security prison.

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The charity, which also supports parents of children with problems at school, has also welcomed back Nicky Gilroy as a families advisor.

Nicky said: “I am looking forward to supporting and advising families with disabled children across Huntingdonshire.

“I have over 10 years’ experience of supporting families, having worked for various local charities, and most recently for a children’s centre running support groups and providing one to one support to families.

“I am keen to develop the idea of getting parents with vital experience in supporting a child with a disability to volunteer for us and help and support parents first hand who have a child who has been newly diagnosed.”

Ms Gatford said one of the key things offered by Dish was home visits: “People with children who are disabled and cannot travel, we do our utmost to go and see them.”

For more on Dish, search for ‘Disability Huntingdonshire’ on Facebook. Meanwhile, Ms Gatford said she would like to hear from a volunteer who could build the charity a new website. INFORMATION: Dish is open Monday-Friday, 9.30am-2.30pm. Call 01480 830833 or email To support Dish, donate by texting DISH38 £5 (or whatever you can afford) to 70070.

The Dish AGM is at 11.30am on Tuesday (January 20) at Pendrill Court. The speaker is Chris Baker, from Samuel Pepys School.