Disability charity now “stronger than before” after treasurer stole more than £200k

Chair of DIAL Lowestoft and Waveney Margaret Oldham MBE.

Chair of DIAL Lowestoft and Waveney Margaret Oldham MBE. - Credit: Mick Howes

The chairman of a disability charity which faced financial ruin after its treasurer stole more than £200,000 has said the organisation is 'like a phoenix rising from the ashes; even stronger than before'.

The Lowestoft and Waveney DIAL office in Rotterdam Road.

The Lowestoft and Waveney DIAL office in Rotterdam Road. - Credit: Archant

Margaret Oldham, of DIAL Lowestoft and Waveney, praised the outpouring of support which helped the charity rebuild in its time of need.

She said: 'We can't thank local people enough for their generosity and donations.'

Last year treasurer Neil Payne defrauded the charity of £212,639 – leaving just 8p in the savings account.

Payne has since been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison and ordered to pay £129,690 in compensation.

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Mrs Oldham said: 'It has been the most difficult 18 months of my life – we thought it was going to be the end of DIAL.'

DIAL offers free, impartial information and advice to disabled people across Waveney.

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Mrs Oldham added: 'It is the only organisation which gives holistic disability advice to those of all ages with any disability.

'DIAL is run by and for people with disabilities.'

The chairman has been working for disabled people within the community since she helped start the charity in 1986 and was made an MBE in 2011 for her dedication.

'The demand for our service is absolutely huge at the moment with things like Universal Credit and the alterations to the Personal Independence Payment,' she said.

DIAL is now inviting the public to its Annual General Meeting at 2pm on Friday, July 13, at St Mark's Church in Oulton Broad.

The meeting will allow the organisation to explain what it does, how it can help those living with disabilities and plans for the future.

Mrs Oldham said: 'If you have used our services in the past, think you might need our services in the future, would like to get involved as a volunteer of trustee or simply curious then please come along.

'We would particularly welcome people with disabilities or long-term health conditions who would like to help in running the charity.'

The chairman explained that all those working for the charity have a disability of some kind and believes this helps it offer a better service.

She said: 'The staff understand how people are struggling.'

If you wish to attend the AGM contact DIAL by emailing info@lowestoftdial.co.uk or through www.lowestoftdial.co.uk

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