Designability stalwart receives Mayor’s Long Service Medal for 50 years of fundraising

By Nick Batten on 23 May, 2024

Bath resident and charity employee Ruth Hooper recently attended a special ceremony in recognition of 50 years of continuous service.

Ruth, who has worked for Designability (formerly the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering) since 1973, received the prestigious Mayor’s Long Service Medal presented by The Mayor of Bath, Councillor Dine Romero. To date, over 820 medals have been presented.

Designability works to enable disabled people to live with greater independence, and Ruth has been an integral part of the charity for over 50 years.

As the charity’s Trust and Foundations Fundraiser, Ruth helps to secure income for Designability to fund its various projects, including the flagship Wizzybug Loan Scheme and its ground-breaking research into making Electric Vehicle (EV) charging facilities more accessible.

Ruth joined Designability on 13th August 1973 having previously worked as a shorthand typist in a large and busy finance department at the Royal United Hospital.

“I didn’t think I would stay very long!” explained Ruth. “Then the need to raise funds became crucial to the work continuing and I was launched into the wonderful world of fundraising, which has turned out to be my God-given job.

“When I first started, I would tap away on my first electric typewriter, individually producing a couple of hundred letters each year which were sent out via the post.”

For Ruth, the end result of her hard work has been the inspiration to stay in the role for so many years.

The Wizzybug Loan Scheme, now in its 13th year, has provided free powered Wizzybug wheelchairs to over 1,400 disabled children throughout the UK.

Ruth continued, “One of my earliest inspirational moments came from watching a young boy with restricted growth riding a specially designed bicycle along the hospital corridor. I wanted to share the moment with the world and the expression on the boy’s face is one I’ll never forget.

“I love watching families try out their Wizzybug for the first time. One little girl wanted a ball from across the other side of the room and her Mum went to fetch it for her, only to rethink and tell her daughter she could move across the room independently for the first time ever and get the ball for herself! Priceless moments, which we see repeated time and time again at Designability.

“It’s a humbling honour to be recognised for my service and I’m proud to work for this fantastic charity.”

Jim Bowes, Chief Executive of Designability, said, “In a world where so much changes so quickly, I’m hugely proud to say Ruth has been part of the Designability team for over 50 years. Through name changes, strategy changes, office moves and multiple CEOs she is a constant, tirelessly seeking the funding so that we can continue designing products that remove barriers from disabled people’s lives.

As the (relatively new) 7th CEO of Designability, I met Ruth in my first few weeks and was struck by how positive and excited by the future she is. To have that energy after over 50 years with a single organisation is a true testament to her commitment and outlook as a person and something for us all to aspire to.”

For more information visit designability.org.uk

Pictured above: Ruth Hooper (second from left) receiving the Mayor’s Long Service medal from (The Right Worshipful The) Mayor of Bath (Councillor Dine Romero) with members of the Designability team; Chief Executive Jim Bowes, Genevieve Arney and Kathleen Mackey