Delight as learning disabilities campaigner honoured with British Empire Medal

FOR more than 40 years dedicated Vivien Loveday has been given up her time to help people with learning disabilities.

Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 10:30 pm
New Year Honours Vivien Loveday (75) from Bishop's Waltham. Picture: Sarah Standing (281220-32)

The compassionate 75-year-old, from Free Street, in Bishop’s Waltham, has been the driving force behind the Bishop’s Waltham Gateway Club, which meets twice a month at the Church Hall.

The club helps people with a learning disability take part in leisure, social and creative activities and provides opportunities for personal development.

Vivien got involved with the club after moving to the Meon Valley market town when her husband Brian left the air force.

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Looking for something in the community that the whole family could get involved with, she spotted an advert at the Bishop’s Waltham Library.

Vivien, who is originally from Chipping Norton, said: ‘I always had an interest in helping people with learning disabilities. When I was 18 I worked in a children’s hospital in Oxford as a medical secretary.

‘At the time they were looking into the various problems associated with learning disabilities and doing research which we were often involved with, so it started from there.

‘It is so lovely to help there. I love the people, some of them I have known for the whole time.

‘People with learning disabilities are just such fun. They get a rough deal a lot of the time, with cut backs. They always seem to be the one on the end of the line.

‘The gateway club is such a good club for them. It gives them so much, and gives their carers a break too.

‘When I first started helping at the club my daughters were six and nine so they were heavily involved as they were growing up, as was my husband who has been a great support.’

Vivien’s daughters now have families of their own – Amanda, 49 and Sasha, 46 – and Vivien has two granddaughters, Estelle, who is 16, and Leyla, 13.

Vivien said she was delighted to be made an BEM, and that she was completely surprised to have been nominated.

She said: ‘The notice came by email and when I saw it I said to my husband that I had received a scam. I couldn’t believe it. It is such an honour. It is wonderful and I am quite humbled by it.’

Vivien, who also had a long career with an engineering consultancy before she retired, said that the honour was not all down to her hard work.

She said: ‘I would like to share this with all the helpers and my husband. We have had so many lovely people and organisations such as the Eastleigh Freemasons, Bishop’s Waltham Rotary and the Meon Valley Lions who have helped us over the years. It is their honour too.’