The founder of a Dorset-based charity that supports children and adults with profound physical and learning disabilities, and their families, has hit a milestone birthday.

Phyllis Edwards turned 100 on Sunday and celebrated in style with friends and family at Two Cedars in Broadstone, the residential care home she has lived at for five years.

In attendance to wish Phyllis a happy birthday were two special guests – the Mayor of Poole, Councillor Lindsay Wilson and the Queen’s local representative Angus Campbell, the Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset.

Mr Campbell presented Phyllis with her card and message from Her Majesty the Queen while the Mayor of Poole presented a telegram from government.

Jenny Pearce, communications manager at Diverse Abilities, said: “Phyllis had a wonderful day celebrating her birthday alongside friends and family. Two Cedars hosted a fantastic afternoon, which Phyllis very much enjoyed. When opening the card from the Queen, she was very overwhelmed and felt privileged to have received it.”

In 1948 Phyllis' first child, Marilyn, was born with cerebral palsy. It took two years for her disability to be diagnosed and doctors told her 'there is no other option but to send your daughter away'.

But Phyllis was determined that more could be done. Despite many setbacks, Phyllis sent two letters to the Bournemouth Daily Echo in 1955, the second of which received nine responses and within two months a group was formed with the intention to provide better opportunities for children with physical and learning disabilities. This was the start of Diverse Abilities, then known as the Bournemouth, Poole and District Spastics Society.

Within one year the first centre opened in Bournemouth and in 1957 the Society was registered as a charity. From then on, the charity grew and developed to offer more services to more people.

Diverse Abilities is commemorating Phyllis’ birthday throughout the whole of November and celebrating how far the charity has come thanks to her incredible courage, unwavering belief and sheer persistence.

Today, Diverse Abilities supports more than 2,000 local people a year through its wide range of services. Over the past 63 years, families have been kept together as thousands of children and adults with disabilities have been cared for and given the support and services they need to fulfil their potential.

Much of the provision provided to local people with disabilities is down to the support from the local community raising vital funds.

To honour Phyllis’ birthday and continue the legacy for years to come, Diverse Abilities is asking local people and businesses to support the work she started by giving a gift of £100 to celebrate her 100 years.

Ashley Weedon, fundraising manager at Diverse Abilities, said: “If, like Phyllis, you believe that everyone, regardless of the cards dealt to them, deserves to be given the chance to lead happy, fulfilled lives, please donate what you can - all donations would be very gratefully received and will continue the vital work Diverse Abilities does to support those with disabilities locally.”

For further information regarding Diverse Abilities, the charity’s story or to donate online visit