Support needed to turn dreams into realities
Mary’s Beat, based in Cossington, between Street and Bridgwater, is a fund created in the memory of Mary Christabel Dyer, to help disabled people take part in activities that will build self-confidence and encourage participation, that they may not otherwise be able to afford.
Grants of up to £1,000 are awarded for individuals to take part in music therapy, music experiences or outdoor adventures and activities, and are made possible thanks to Mary’s family, who normally organise fundraising activities every year.
Since the Fund was launched by Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) in July 2017, a total of £12,405 has been awarded in grants, to 23 individuals with physical disabilities, learning disabilities or both, living in Somerset or Devon. However, the pandemic has meant that Mary’s family haven’t been able to do their planned sponsored cycle ride or other fundraising activities. To be able to award grants early next year more funding is now desperately needed.
Piers Dyer, Mary’s father, explained: “We normally raise around £3,000 each year for the Fund which is then given out by SCF as grants to people living with disabilities. Our sponsored cycle to the Hoge Veluwe National Park in the Netherlands, where Mary had her first ride on a special wheelchair bicycle, was planned for August 2020, but due to the pandemic it unfortunately had to be postponed.
“We’re keen to start fundraising again and hope to plan events for 2022, which include a concert as well as another sponsored cycle ride. Also, if anyone would like to arrange a fundraiser for Mary’s Beat we can offer support and would be happy to come along to an event to speak about the Fund. We also welcome any donations which can be made at our Justgiving page: www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/somersetcf/marysbeat .”
Harrison, aged 9, has Fragile X Syndrome, which causes him to be severely intellectually and learning disabled. His condition is lifelong and has a significant impact on Harrison’s mobility and ability to access physical activities and the community in a safe way. A Mary’s Beat grant of £750 was awarded earlier this year towards the cost of a specialist trike so that Harrison can join his family on cycle rides. Having this trike has given Harrison access to cycling, significantly increasing his level of outdoor and physical activity, giving him the sensory feedback he needs.
Harrison’s mum, Natasha, said: “I would like to thank Somerset Community Foundation and the Mary’s Beat Fund for helping us to fund Harrison’s new Tomcat trike. He loves it and was so happy to receive it for his 8th birthday.The different control options mean he can achieve a level of independence, which is brilliant for boosting his confidence and self-esteem.”
His dad, Chris, adds: “The trike has given Harrison a newfound freedom, bringing him such joy and happiness.”
Paul has Myotonic Dystrophy type 1. He was once a Church of England vicar but had to take early retirement due to his disability, and before that was a PE teacher. Paul had always enjoyed sailing but also had to give this up due to his disability. Paul discovered Sailability in Torquay, a Disabled Sailing Association club and a £300 Mary’s Beat grant was awarded to go towards petrol costs to get to the sailing centre, session costs and membership fees. In Paul’s application for funding he added that he has lost the ability to take part in other physical activities and that this would give him that opportunity, along with a sense of freedom and self-worth, benefitting his physical and mental health.
Paul said: “With the help of the Mary’s Beat grant, I was able to join the Disability Sailing Association (DSA) based in Torbay. The DSA has two yachts adapted for physically impaired people. Having had to give up my lifetime hobby of dinghy sailing due to myotonic dystrophy, this has enabled me to continue my passionate interest and ability to sail. Not only can I be taken out to sail but I also get plenty of opportunity to helm the boats under the oversight of fully qualified skippers and crews. This in turn has made a massive difference to my health and wellbeing. I am very thankful to Mary’s Beat and Somerset Community Foundation for this grant.”
Mary’s Beat will consider funding for individuals to participate in an activity which would not otherwise be available to them. Eligible activities include music therapy, one-off concerts, and outdoor activities that will build self-confidence, encourage participation and inspire hope for the future. Previous grants have been awarded towards the cost of specialist buggies, trikes and wheelchairs, football season tickets, music and equine therapy, and outdoor activity days.
Kirsty Campbell, Programmes Manager at Somerset Community Foundation, said: “It’s fantastic to see Mary’s Beat helping people have fun, positive experiences which they’ll enjoy and remember for years to come. If the fundraising is successful we hope to open the Fund so that more people can apply early next year (2022), and we can help turn more peoples’ dreams into realities.”
Mary was born with severe disabilities and required constant care, however, she lived a rich and rewarding life. She loved attending live music concerts and enjoyed the great outdoors: camping, going for walks with family and friends in her adapted wheelchair, and cycling in her ‘Duet’ wheelchair bike.
Any person wishing to apply for funding should visit the SCF website where they can find guidance on how to make an application: www.somersetcf.org.uk/apply
Somerset Community Foundation is a charity that helps passionate people in Somerset change the world on their doorstep by funding local charities and inspiring local giving and philanthropy. They aim to build stronger communities in Somerset where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. They provide rewarding and impactful ways for donors to give through them, to the causes and places they care about most. Together, they fund amazing organisations and the passionate people that change lives every day.
Since SCF were founded in 2002 they’ve awarded more than £15 million in funding, changing thousands of lives across Somerset.
Photo caption: Harrison on his specially adapted trike