THEY told her she would never be fit enough to work with disabled people.
But now Angela Hunter is to finally take it easy – after 32 years of dedicated service to the Hollybank Trust.
The head of speech and language therapy at the school and home for people with profound disabilities is preparing to say goodbye and retire.
Angela overcame her own disability to fulfil her dream of working with the disabled.
She has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder, and she was told she would never work with people with disabilities when she was applying to colleges.
However, she won a place at a London college and hasn’t looked back.
Angela began working for the Hollybank School when it was based in Lindley in 1980.
At the time she was the only speech and language therapist, and she leaves having led a department of ten.
Angela, who lives in Huddersfield said: “For us, the rewards of the job come in very small ways and take a long time, but that makes them all the more meaningful.
“Having lived with EDS I have an understanding of living with a disability. I have proved to those who advised against me doing this that they were wrong.”
Angela worked in community in clinics in London before moving to work for Hollybank.
Brought up in Buckinghamshire and living in London at the time, she said: “I thought ‘that’s just what I’m looking for’ then I realised it was in Yorkshire and I dismissed it as being too far away.
“One of the placement students encouraged me to at least have a look round and I just knew.
“I felt it was a different, special place and I felt at home.
“I had never been to Yorkshire before and now I have lived most of my life here. I was very much guided to Hollybank.”
Life at Hollybank has changed a lot during Angela’s time – it relocated to its current Mirfield site and expanded the number of people it cares for.
Currently Hollybank has 25 children and 75 adults at the school and in its residential facilities.
Angela added: “When I first started here we had 35 students and only five of them needed assisting at mealtimes.
“They were very much more independent and used to get to my office by themselves, either walking or wheeling.
“Now I look after both children and adults and they have a lot more complex problems.
“I have definitely seen a big change in the needs of the children, the diagnoses and also the equipment.”
Pam King, chief executive of the Hollybank Trust, said: “We are sorry to lose Angela’s expertise, knowledge and dedication and will also miss her as a friend.
“But we are confidence that she has left the department in very competent hands.”