BOPH founder Joan Lythgoe has received an MBE for her charity work in the community. We are so proud of Joan and appreciate her for all she has done since opening BOPH in 1995, 20 years ago.
Over 20 years ago Joan had a conversation with Princess Anne, who was in Southend on a visit to the Kingsdown Special School where Joan’s granddaughter attended. It was a school for students with disabilities and learning difficulties. They wondered what might happen to the students after they left the school. Joan realised there was a complete lack of opportunities for people with disabilities after leaving full-time education. So Joan and her husband decided to start BOPH, Business Opportunities for the Physically Handicapped. BOPH was to be a place where those with disabilities could go to work in a safe and friendly environment.
After some intense fundraising, BOPH opened in a premises rented from the local authority in the Charfleets industrial estate on Canvey Island. Local businesses and tradesmen donated their time to help refurbish the property that at that point was in a complete state of disrepair. When the doors opened for the first time in 1995 we offered work placements for the physically handicapped and people with learning difficulties.
The charity was a great success with so many seeking help we realised there was a huge need for this kind of service in the community. So we expanded into a larger unit where we are today.
The people that come to BOPH will never be gainfully employed due to their disabilities so we are here to provide placements in a place that offers stability and the opportunity of enhance their personal development to maximise their own potential.
BOPH has been running for over 20 years now and Joan is still there everyday, making sure it continues to provide this essential service to the local community.
Joan was awarded her MBE in July by Princess Anne herself, who she spoke to all those years ago and sparked this whole thing. We are so proud of Joan and what she has made here at BOPH and long may it continue.
Thank You Joan!