Edinburgh duo given national honour for services to community

The Edinburgh duo are to obtain a national award. Picture; contributed
The Edinburgh duo are to obtain a national award. Picture; contributed
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A duo from the Capital who have been supporting people with disabilities for 14 years have been recognised with a national honour.

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Martha Lester-Cribb and Sandy Kerr, of Edinburgh, has been given a British Citizen Award for their services to the community.

The British Citizen Awards (BCAs) were launched in January 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society. BCAs are awarded twice annually, and recognise ‘everyday’ people whose achievements may otherwise by overlooked.

Martha Lester-Cribb, aged 47, and her husband, Sandy Kerr, aged 58, founded a charity in 2002, which adapts donated computers for people with disabilities who live in the Edinburgh and Lothian area.

The charity was set up after both Martha and Sandy recognised that for many people with disabilities are excluded from the benefits of IT, which most people take for granted. For disabled people, these benefits can be even greater - for example the internet allows someone who is housebound to manage their banking or do their shopping independently, and an accessible PC can allow someone who can’t use their arms to write a private letter or read an electronic book.

Pass IT On, which has three paid members of staff and a team of volunteers, provides computers for those who would find it difficult, or almost impossible, to use publicly available computers. The computers, which are usually no more than three years old, are fully refurbished, adapted and tested, and are given to people free of charge.

The charity also provides valuable work placements for people who have extra support needs, with placements ranging from eight weeks to two months.

Pass IT On, which has helped over 500 people with disabilities, has grown significantly over the years, and the pair were joined in 2011, by Helen Russell, as the charity’s administrator; and more recently by Peter White, as an IT technician and volunteer coordinator.

In addition to supporting people with disabilities, the charity also tackles environmental issues, by recycling computers which would otherwise end up in landfill.

Martha and Sandy are two of 29 medallists who will be honoured at a prestigious ceremony on January 26, at the Palace of Westminster. All BCA recipients have positively impact society undertaking various activities in support of a number of causes. Each will receive a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’. Medallists are also invited to use the initials BCA after their name.

Speaking about her nomination, Martha said: “This came as a complete surprise. We never expected any recognition for our work - just seeing the difference an accessible computer can make to someone’s life is its own reward. I feel very honoured.”

Speaking about his nomination, Sandy said: “We are so thankful to the selection committee for this prestigious award. Hopefully, it will help highlight the importance of digital inclusion and what can be done to help everyone enjoy the benefits of IT access. Maybe it will inspire others throughout the UK to develop similar services.”