Photo of the opening of HADOriginally called Hertfordshire Association for the Welfare of The Handicapped HAD was set up in 1958 by the then welfare department of the County Council to supply equipment to disabled people.

The original organisation was a federation of existing local groups and others were encouraged until there was a committee of HAD in every town in Hertfordshire. Two members of staff working from an office in St Albans oversaw the provision of equipment and other services and supported and encouraged the local committees.

Photo of HAD unveiling

The Association’s name was changed to Hertfordshire Association for the Disabled in 1971. In 1988 HAD moved to The Woodside Centre in Welwyn Garden City. The increased amount of space in this converted school allowed the creation of the Easier Living Exhibition.

Under the guidance of Chief Executive Annabelle Waterfield and, then Chairman, Terry Stevens, changed not only their name – to Hertfordshire Action on Disability – but also their approach and outlook.

Photo of Terry StevensAnnabelle introduced a personal, hands-on approach promoting a sense of teamwork that survives and flourishes to this day. In 1988 the organisation employed two full-time members of staff, now there are more than 25 full-time employees.

The service has grown over the years too. Today there are well in excess of 200 visitors to the Woodside Centre’s Equipment Centre every week. The Centre offers an occupational therapy service plus retail and ordering services.

In 1999 HAD took over more of the space in the building to house the exhibition of bathing equipment and the multi-sensory room. At the same time we refurbished and extended the offices.

Sir GalahadA recent extension to the service was the purchase of a 7- ton lorry, known to everyone as Ivanhoe which with another two members of staff provides an equipment information and advice outreach service to shopping centres and supermarket car parks in Hertfordshire. The lorry, which hit the road for the first time in 2000, also provides a service to Adult Care Services day centres. HAD has recently purchased a second vehicle – Sir Galahad.

Present Finance Director Jon Banerjee joined HAD in 2001, replacing Gerald Drewett.

Photo of the HAD works

HAD works closely with grant-making Trusts and also local and central Government to try and improve and expand its services. In 2004 the Mobility Centre won the support of the Department for Transport who funded the conversion of an old workshop into offices for the assessment and driving centre.

In March 2007 Annabelle and Transport Manager Phil Caley worked closely with the County Council Transport Department to add four vehicles to the fleet.

At the beginning of 2004 Adult Care Services’ Fast Track Equipment Service Team (FASTEST) was launched. Based at the Equipment Centre it promoted independent living by ensuring people got the equipment they need as fast as possible. Sadly this service closed in the summer of 2010.

Photo of Ivanhoe the equipment information lorrySince the Equipment Centre was refurbished in 2005, with the help of Adult Care Services, it has flourished – both as a service and a business – with turnover increasing year on year. It has become so successful we are in the process of providing products online as well as setting up a trading social enterprise.

In 2006 Ivanhoe received a major £16,000 re-fit. The money, from the Childwick Trust, paid for a new cab and chassis.

In 2008 HAD celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a series of special events and fundraisers, culminating in an Elizabethan Dinner at Hatfield House and a party at County Hall, Hertford.

In 2011 the County Council began to cut funding to HAD, all County Council funding will cease in 2013. This has meant that the lorry had to be taken off the road in March 2011. HAD is determined to become an independent social enterprise in order to cope with this reduction in funding.