A charity which provides craft activities for people with disabilities is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

CraftAbility in Thaxted was founded in 1963 by a woman named Kay Low, who was working as a hospital visitor.

On a visit to Black Notley Hospital in the 1950s she became aware of a small boy, about seven years old, who was severely disabled and unable to speak.

After realising he had no visitors, she started visiting him and took him home to meet her three children, eventually adopting him.

Once her other children grew up and left home, she was left caring for him and decided to start a group where he could meet people and learn to do activities.

Helped by a friend who was an occupational therapist, she started the group - then known as The Town and Country Workshop for the Physically Handicapped - in the British Legion Hall in Thaxted.

A new building was opened in 1973, on land offered for the purpose by local farmer Robert Barnard. His two sons David and Ian have continued helping the centre, and are currently president and vice-president.

The group grew, and in 1998 the name was changed to Thaxted Centre for the Disabled, with the working name of CraftAbility.


Membership was initially open to anyone in Uttlesford with physical disabilities and not needing medical care, but now the definition of disabled is more loosely applied.

The centre is now open to anyone lonely or isolated, or with an underlying health condition, and money from crafts sold goes back into supporting the centre.

In recent years, members have knitted baby bonnets for the neo-natal unit at Addenbrooke's, blankets for homeless people in Cambridge and blankets for Dunmow Stroke Club's Ukraine and Syria appeal.

The group meets twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays from 10am to 2.30pm.

CraftAbility is marking the 60th anniversary milestone with a celebration at the centre in Dunmow Road from 11am to 4pm on Saturday, September 16.

Canapés and refreshments will be served, and there will be a raffle.

To RSVP email craftabilitythaxted@gmail.com or call 01371 830752 by Saturday, September 1.