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Bridgend Day Services’ very own Wonder Woman retires

From a young age, Frances Childs has challenged any preconceived limitations that people may place on those with learning disabilities - from winning an Olympic gold medal for swimming at age 24, to writing the published memoirs of her life!  ‘A life less ordinary’ is how you might describe her life to date.

Frances has been involved with Bridgend County Borough’s Day Care Services for over 47 years and on April 14, she retired.

The date aptly coincided with celebrations across the county borough’s four community hubs and main Resource Centre, to mark a decade since the council’s Day Services were remodelled.

An avid fundraiser, Frances raised over £200 for the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, following her stay there whilst fighting for her life with Covid-19, in March 2020. So grateful for the care she received, Frances wanted to show the hospital her gratitude.

“The nurses fell in love with her”, says Catherine Hevizi, Supported Living Manager.  “She also produced a talking book about experiencing Covid-19 with learning disabilities, with the aim of helping others – this went live on the NHS app.”

“Frances is a very independent lady!  She is strong willed and can achieve anything she sets her mind on.”           

Frances hit the local headlines in June 1981, when she became the Swimming Gold Medallist for 50m at the in Belgium Special Olympics, surrounded by her family - including her father, who taught her to swim at the age of six, at Kenfig Pool.

A well-seasoned and worldly traveller, largely along with her family, Frances even crossed the Equator in 1982, through her involvement in Gateway Clubs which organised a Third World charity project based in Africa.

Despite retiring from Day Services, Frances does not intend to slow down any time soon. 

A particular interest, as well as something she wishes to pursue in retirement, is to complete her family tree.

Mark Hobbs, former Day Service Officer from Bridgend Day Services, worked closely with Frances, helping her to discover distant relatives using Genes Reunited.  He says, “It was her greatest interest whilst working with me, and ultimately, it became mine too.

“Francis is one of the IT users who I fondly regard as a friend. I miss her still and very much send my best wishes to her in retirement.”

Future plans also include adding to her collection of catering qualifications, voluntary work, as well as watching and meeting the Welsh rugby team!  She is also in the process of writing a new book…about her advantageous life - we can’t wait!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Frances is a shining reminder that we really are limitless – in fact, the only restrictions we have are the ones which we place upon ourselves.

The commitment of the Day Service staff cannot go unnoticed, with them helping their vulnerable people to realise their potential each day. However, this is undoubtedly a reciprocated service - in supporting our users we also learn so much from them and our lives are enriched by doing so.

We would like to wish Frances all the very best for her future plans – we have no doubt that she will fulfil them all!

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Social Care and Early Help, Jane Gebbie

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