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On Monday 3 December, Bedford marked International Day of People with Disability by hosting award ceremonies across Australia to celebrate our wonderful workers.

From Mount Gambier to Melbourne and Port Lincoln to Pooraka, the ceremonies honoured 175 team members who have contributed at least 10 years of service.

Bedford’s Chief Executive Maggie Dowling said this was an important way of recognising all the hard work our team members have made to their local community.

“It’s really humbling to have so many enthusiastic team members. Presenting them with a certificate or token of appreciation is the least we can do, and yet some employees are too modest to accept it,” Maggie said.

Aside from their loyalty, our workers have at times had to learn new skills, become flexible and resilient as tasks and industries changed over the years.

"Yet they take it in their stride. They’re here because they love it and they know when they wake up every morning they've got a place to go where they feel like they're part of a big family and where they achieve the same work goals as anyone else in society," she said.

Here’s what some of the recipients and guests of honour had to say on the day:

When I first started there I couldn't do very much at all and I wouldn’t talk to anybody, but I learnt lots of things like how to sew properly and how to pack things and now I talk to everybody and anybody. I love to get up in the morning and come to work at Bedford where all my friends are. If I didn’t have this I would probably be sitting at home and bored.

— Joyce Cotton

I would like to thank my parents for not giving up on me all those years ago when they found out that they would be having a child with a disability, for if it was not for them pushing me at primary school, high school and in life to do the best I possibly could I believe I would not have turned out as well as I have. In my 20 years of working for Bedford I have seen a lot of good stuff happen, like winning lots of big contracts with big clients. I would also like to give a very big thank you to the people who helped me.

— David Brooks

I was a marine engineer on a trawler and one day I fell and injured my head. I spent a month in a coma and then I was taken to Adelaide where I spent just under two years recuperating. I learnt how to walk, talk, write, read – pretty much everything. I’ve now been with Bedford for 10 years and it has good principles. I love being with the people too and all of them are my friends. They’re so nice, I wish everyone was like them.

— Craig Gerschwitz

There’s two wonderful groups of people here - the employees and the staff who enable them to achieve such fantastic outcomes. You can see people are so proud about the awards they receive and it’s not a token award, it’s actually an award for hard work that’s occurred over many years and it’s very deserving.

— Port Lincoln Mayor, Brad Flaherty