Jan Kerr

Secretary and Trustee, Homelands Trust-Fife

A silhouette of a person

In a previous life, I was a teacher of physical education. Then, after having a family of 5, I taught children and adults with ‘profound and multiple learning disabilities’ for 16 years as a classroom teacher.

In 2001, I was diagnosed with ME, which greatly reduced my mobility for about 6 years. I had to take early retirement from teaching. I am currently in remission and hopeful that it will never return.

Along with my husband, I am a carer for my best friend, who has lived with me for nearly 20 years. She can no longer live independently. She uses a power-chair to mobilise. She has 2 carers who visit 4 times daily to carry out her personal care needs.

In 2002, we were founder members of a rambling group for power-chair and mobility scooter users in Fife. We’ve rambled in many parts ofScotlandand northernEngland. We have campaigned since then for better disabled access to the countryside. In 2006, I raised £15,000 and set up a mobility scooter scheme atLochoreMeadowsCountryPark. The original machines have been replaced and the scheme is still going strong. I’ve served on the board of several local disability charities. I was branch secretary and president of MS Fife for a few years. I am currently on the sub-group of Tourism St Andrews that raised funds and set up the very popular St Andrews Beach Wheelchairs scheme. In 2018-19, I served on the committee of a partnership project to create an underpass from RSPB Loch Leven to Loch Leven Heritage Trail. It finally opened last month.

For the past 3 years, in June, I have organised an annual Big Lottery/Eden Project 'Big Lunch' on our village green. Around 250 locals attend to share food, have fun and help combat loneliness. Three years ago, after the first Big Lunch, I got a group of local parents together and we raised £100,000 to install a new, inclusive play park in the village. It has been a huge success, with people coming from further afield with their children because it is a fun, inclusive place to play.

I am currently secretary and a trustee, as well as a volunteer, with the Homelands Trust-Fife, a small, local charity providing luxury, accessible self-catering lodges for disabled people. I coordinate the volunteer-led programme of activities in the drop-in community hub, the Paxton Centre. We offer art, crafts, basic IT, seated exercise, mindfulness, creative writing, and rock painting. I manage the cafe, which is run entirely by volunteers. There are several self-employed therapists working in the centre.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve worked with landowners, service providers, charities and councils to improve access for disabled people in both indoor and outdoor environments.