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Celebrating the life of Jayne Carr

Jayne Carr, a smiling woman sitting at a table with two other people

We are very sad to announce the passing of our Honorary President Jayne Carr. Jayne was at the very heart of WECIL since the beginning, involved in the Disabled People’s Rights Movement and she will be greatly missed by the community she so loyally served and loved.

Jayne was a nurturing, caring and influential member of our community, and the impact she made not only on the organisation but on the lives of all those she met, is something to be truly celebrated. Her many achievements, roles and impact of her work are testament to her inspiring character and commitment, and without Jayne, WECIL wouldn’t be where it is today.

Jayne at a historical WECIL meeting, 3 people are sitting at a table with a projection screen behind them

There from the start

Jayne was a founding member of WECIL, and has continued to fight for choice and control for Disabled people over her 27 years on the Board of Trustees. From WECIL’s inception in March 1995, continuing the work started by the Avon Coalition of Disabled People in 1989, Jayne was instrumental; she was part of the Steering group set up by the West of England Coalition Of Disabled People (WECODP) to successfully secure funding for a Centre for Independent Living (CIL). Initially nominated as the representative for Dial-A-Ride, a door-to-door transport service for Disabled people, Jayne was always an active campaigner for accessible transport, and has also served on both the Finance and the Personnel Sub-Committees. At this time, the concept of Disabled People’s Organisations was new; there was a Centre for Independent Living in California, but the formation of these organisations in the UK was a truly significant step for the Disabled People’s Rights Movement and one that Jayne was so significant in initiating. 

She really believed in the concept and importance of Disabled People’s Organisations, and this user-led approach to supporting independent living continues to be central to WECIL’s mission today – to enable choice and challenge barriers for the Disabled community through the delivery of high-quality support and advice services which are designed by Disabled people for Disabled people. Jayne was effectively involved in WECIL before it even existed, and her unique perspective as a Direct Payments user, at a time when that was rare, helped define and shape WECIL’s approach which continues to this day.

Jayne on an access audit, four people are on Bristol Airport runway, three of them have hi vis jackets, Jayne has an blue umbrella

An incredible impact

Jayne continued to generously dedicate her time, all voluntarily, to WECIL over the years. In April 2000 she became WECIL’s Company Secretary and in February 2001 she was appointed as Joint Vice-Chair of Trustees. She took on the role of Chair of the Personnel Sub-Committee in February 2002 whilst continuing as Vice-Chair of the Board until 2010 when she was elected as Chair of the Board of Trustees. She held this role until she stepped down in October 2014 and once again became Vice-Chair of the Board. Sandra Garrett, the incoming Chair, praised Jayne’s ‘wealth of knowledge, experience and her readiness to offer support to Trustees and staff alike, means that she is a much valued and popular member of the team.’

She held the role of Vice-Chair and in 2014 she also became a Director of WECIL Social Enterprise Ltd, a subsidiary company of WECIL Ltd.  Following the resignation of the Chair in February 2016 Jayne again took up the role as Interim Chair of the Board. This was an important year for WECIL, as Action on Disability and Work UK (known as ADWUK) and formerly the Vassall Centre Trust, merged with WECIL to, as Jayne described, ‘enhance and grow our holistic package of support’.

After resigning as Interim-Chair at the following Annual General Meeting, she once again returned to the role of Vice-Chair of the Board. Letty Fox, as the incoming Chair of the Board, thanked Jayne and recognised her as being incredible and hardworking, boasting an impressive history of working with WECIL to provide services for the Disabled community.

Jayne was always a huge advocate of access issues throughout her life as a founding member of BPAC (Bristol Physical Access Chain) which became WAIT (WECIL Access and Inclusion Team). She enjoyed doing access audits, and was an expert by experience; as a people person she had a way of explaining access to inspire others to want to change. Her educational and encouraging consultation has developed into processes that we now adopt for all of our corporate advocacy work with Disability.Inc.

She continued in the role as Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees until September 2022, when she stepped down from her Officer role but still maintained the position of a Trustee of WECIL and Director of WECIL Social Enterprise Ltd.

Jayne Carr, a woman,  receiving an award, she is holding a blue vase and a projection screen can be seen in the background

Honorary Presidency

The Board of Trustees and WECIL staff were thrilled that at our Annual General Meeting and Access All Areas event in October, Jayne was awarded the role of WECIL’s Honorary President; we know that this meant a great deal to her and she was very proud to accept it. Jayne’s unique contribution to WECIL needed unique recognition, which is why we created this role specially for her, to acknowledge the impact she had, her services and involvement chairing many committees over the years.

Jayne was not interested in being put forward for other awards or royal recognition, but was delighted to accept this role within WECIL, highlighting what the organisation meant to her. Humble, full of praise and honesty, Jayne was a driven character that genuinely cared about the staff as individuals and, in her words, gave her ‘time, knowledge and experience of being a Disabled woman gladly and wholeheartedly’.

Outside of WECIL, Jayne was a nurse before she became Disabled, and a cherished wife, mother and grandmother. Her compassion and care for others was part of her very nature, and she continually used the barriers and difficulties she faced throughout her life to influence positive change for the Disabled community. Lovingly regarded as WECIL’s ‘mum’ (though would always rebuff this and insist she was more ‘WECIL’s midwife’), she was always checking everyone was alright and was truly a personal friend to the organisation and staff. Ruth Pickersgill, current Chair of Trustees, described Jayne as ‘an inspiration to us all – she was always positive and was one of the most caring people I have ever met. She always took such an interest in everyone she encountered, and was always concerned to check how everyone was doing, and to give support and a shoulder to cry on when needed’.

In more recent years Jayne really appreciated all the support she was given by Kath for her trustee role; before she died she wanted to thank her particularly, but also to thank all of the WECIL community for making her feel so much part of the organisation and what she called her ‘second family’.

a photo of the WECIL team, Jayne can be seen sat in the front on a wheel chair, there are 10 people standing behind her, the photo is taken in Bristol city centre

Jayne’s legacy

This woman’s influence has spread far and wide throughout WECIL and the wider community in Bristol and beyond. Her inspiring views and beliefs have shaped WECIL and the work that we do to this day to give Disabled people a voice in their care and support needs. She was a user of WECIL’s services herself, receiving support to manage a Direct Payment to employ PAs, and having individuals such as Jayne lead the decision making of WECIL is what embodies and identifies us as a Disabled People’s Organisation. Jayne was passionate about increasing the availability of Direct Payments equally across the UK, improving public accessibility and fighting for Disabled people’s rights, and her voice and influence is embedded deep into WECIL. 

Jayne wanted to see WECIL grow and prosper in its service provision, and her plan for the organisation was ‘world domination’; light hearted and motivated, positive and inspiring, her vision was for WECIL to be government advisors on all issues pertaining to Disabled people. Whilst we’re not quite there yet, we will carry on working towards what she wanted by continuing to grow and Jayne’s legacy will live on through everything we do as an organisation.

She said she often felt that WECIL ‘was her life’ and she will be greatly missed by the community that she was so central to. Our thoughts and love go to Jayne’s husband Bill and her daughter Hazel and family. Jayne holds a very special place in the hearts of us all and we will always remember and celebrate the unwavering commitment, generosity, skills and wisdom that she brought to us.

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