THE Beacon Centre for the Blind was originally founded in 1899.

At the time it was known as Wolverhampton Society for the Blind but later changed its name to Wolverhampton, Dudley and District to better reflect the area it served.

It wasn't until 1963 that Beacon moved to Sedgley after buying land from the Earl of Dudley.

The premises contained a concert hall, craft centre, workshops, a library and offices.

It was renamed the Beacon Centre for the Blind in 1991 - with a completely new building opening in 2009.

yet despite all the changes, the ethos hasn't changed at all.

The vision remains firm when supporting people with sight conditions.

They strive to achieve a society where visual impairment does not limit or determine opportunity.

Dudley News: Beacon Centre chief executive Lisa CowleyBeacon Centre chief executive Lisa Cowley

TINA Boothroyd has been at the forefront of Access in Dudley for over 20 years.

Their objective is simply to improve the lives of disabled people within the borough.

During that time Access in Dudley has built a network of support for disabled people plus their carers, family members and profession alike.

Tina said: "I'm overwhelmed and very surprised because I don't expect to be nominated for awards - that's not why I do things.

“However, it makes me happy when people recognise just how hard we work - because we care.

"I live with a disability myself, but rather than moan about it, I decided to do something about it.

"Dudley is important to me, because it's my home. I want our community to be accessible and inclusive for everyone.

"When you make a community better for disabled people, then it makes it better for everyone.”

Dudley News: Tina BoothroydTina Boothroyd

The Wheely Different Theatre Company initially began life as a 40-week project.

That was well over 10 years ago yet the group is still going strong today.

They cater for people with both learning and physical disabilities who love to perform.

Founder member and project leader Elaine Kirby explains:" When the 40 weeks were completed, people didn't want to stop, so we decided to keep going. Now we attract members from all over the West Midlands.

"It's got to the point where we are much more than just a theatre company. There's a much bigger picture involved as we help members with the challenges they face in life, overcoming obstacles and barriers that may come their way.

"I also arrange special transport for the members so we can go to the theatre, meals out and other. We attempt to make life better for all wheelchair users.”