Poole born and bred Cate McGrath, age 55, is celebrating an impressive career milestone at Dorset’s disability charity Diverse Abilities this month. Cate’s main role at the charity has been as office administrator for the past 25 years, but her association with the charity is far more special because of her sister Sue and mum Marion Lawford.
Sue, Cate’s sister, was brain damaged by the whooping cough vaccine at three months old and started at Langside – the charity’s run special school – when she was four years old. Cate’s mum took on numerous voluntary roles within the organisation, such as becoming honorary treasurer and sitting on both management and executive committees. Marion was appointed as executive officer for the charity in the 1970s and was in charge of all services. She saw the setting up of the charity’s adult residential home and children’s respite centre and it was thanks to Marion’s friend Lily Smithers that the charity was able to secure the site of the current respite home and the charity’s day opportunity service, Barnabas after she left a legacy donation.
Cate said: “I am very pleased to be celebrating 25 years at Diverse Abilities. The charity has been a big part of my life as mum was involved for almost 40 years and my sister Sue, who is now 56, has been supported by the charity since she was four. Much of my younger childhood was spent at Langside, attending the numerous jumble sales and summer and Christmas fayres organised by mum – I almost feel as if I grew up as part of the charity!
“Luckily, my job still allows me to get out and about amongst the services, and more importantly, amongst the people we support, many of whom I have known for my entire life! My working day starts in the children’s respite centre where I carry out various administration tasks, then on to Barnabas, where I always pop in for a chat with the students, and then on to my desk at head office. I think that I am extremely fortunate in that I love what I do. For me, it is more than just a job – it’s more like looking after the family business!”