How It All Began - Elisabeth Berrisford, ‘Lis’.
Lis was known to many people in Spelthorne for her dedication to campaigning and working in a practical way to develop local services to improve the life of disabled people and their Carers.
Starting with the Carers, she discovered a national organisation called Crossroads, and in 1982 she started to lobby people for support and money, in 1984 a Working Group was set up and finally in 1988 Spelthorne Crossroads was officially formed.
Lis did not make New Year resolutions, she made Plans and during the 1990’s she planned and worked to develop
- a voluntary organisation to improve Access to amenities in Spelthorne for people with disabilities. This became SCAN.
- Then from within SCAN the second organisation was developed, following a Report commissioned by SCAN that established the need for accessible transport in Spelthorne and a Dial-a-Ride scheme was started in 1993.
- Finally, a natural progression from this was a Shopmobility Scheme. This was officially opened in 1998.
Again Lis set about the laborious task of gathering the support and evidence needed to support an application for funding for this now very successful scheme running out of premises in the Two Rivers retail park in Staines.
Lis was nominated for and awarded a Spelthorne Civic Award in 1999, an honour well deserved and especially pleasing for Lis as her father had been one of the first recipients of such an award.
Lis had developed polio at the age of 6 and had used a wheelchair for personal mobility since her early teens. She worked full time for Surrey County Council, Education Department until ill health forced her to retire in early 1992. But she did not stop working!
She continued to work part time for the Education Department and prepared herself with evening classes for her next project, to start up a business offering Disability Awareness Training. Whilst working on these plans she also completed her BA degree with the Open University, obtaining her degree in 1996.
In 1998 she moved to Poole, a town much loved by her for many years. She continued to identify gaps in their local provision and was making plans to fill these gaps by contacting local people with a view to establishing an Access group. She also successfully applied for the post of Direct Payments Officer in Bournemouth. Whilst working there Lis realised a long held ambition, of having a dog. She was very pleased to have been accepted by ‘Canine Pets for Independence’ to receive one of their well trained dogs and she never ceased to sing the praises of her ‘Janie’.
Both whilst living in Shepperton and in Poole Lis needed help with some of the tasks of daily living and with characteristic determination she set about arranging for that help. It is a tribute to her personality that those people who entered her house to work with her, left knowing that they had made a friend on whom they could rely. A comment made by one of those friends was, ‘whatever you went into her house to do or to give, you came out with more than you went in with’.
Lis died suddenly in March 2003 and SCAN’s Access Guides that were produced and distributed in 2004 were dedicated to her.