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A tribute to Kate Wyatt, by Shaun McGarry, Chair

Image description: Kate, a petite white woman with light brown hair, sits on a bench in a hilly, tree-lined, green space. She is wearing a red jacket and clear, plastic-framed spectacles. She looks at the camera directly with a big smile on her face.

One of our longest serving Trustees, Kate Wyatt, recently passed away peacefully after contracting an infection. Kate was a Trustee for Equal Lives from 2010 until just before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, retiring in 2019 after nine years of dedication to our organisation. She was our Vice Chair for several years. She came to virtually every single board meeting, as well as numerous other meetings and events.

She was diagnosed in 1992 with MS and soon after became involved with the MS Society in the Birmingham area. After moving to Norfolk in 2005, she continued to work with the MS Society at the local branch in Norwich. She took keen interest in - and gave a great deal of her time and knowledge to – the MS Society, including helping one of my friends who was running the Great Yarmouth branch at the time.

She also helped to form the Dereham Access Group, becoming their secretary. Her group, along with her husband, Mike, a photographer, surveyed all of Dereham to evaluate and assess many of its popular venues, including pubs, libraries, surgeries, shops, and businesses. The Dereham Access Group made many venue owners think twice about the conditions of their buildings and laid down plans to greatly improve accessibility in the area.

Around this time, Kate joined Equal Lives, as the representative of the Dereham Access Group. She took part in many focus groups and workshops, and attended every AGM. In 2010, she joined our Board of Trustees, contributing knowledge and experience that we immensely appreciated. She became our Vice Chair in the summer of 2014 and continued working in the position until her retirement in October 2019.

She was very keen on dogs, and she adored her dog Charlie, so much so that she had a tattoo of his paw print just above her wrist. She had a cat called Echo, too. She also enjoyed going to the theatre, once going with another Trustee, Martin, both in their powered wheelchairs!

Please raise your glasses in memory of Kate, and of all the effort and time she served to help disabled people both in Dereham and across Norfolk. She was 74.

Shaun McGarry, Chair

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