Royal recognition for Honiton stalwart responsible for restoring independence to thousands of people
PUBLISHED: 14:22 14 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:14 19 June 2019
A Honiton stalwart who has donated more than 4,000 mobility aids to people in need has received royal recognition.
'Shocked' Carole Gilson opened a letter in the post to find it penned by David Fursdon, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, informing her she has been put on the Queen's birthday honours list.
Ms Gilson, whose Joe Gilson Mobility Scheme was launched following the death of her late husband, will be awarded her medal later this year.
The 75-year-old has also been invited to a garden party at Buckingam Palace next year.
Ms Gilson, who will receive a British Empire Medal, said: "I am shocked because I have had the point of life.
"I have already been Honiton's citizen of the year, so this honour comes as a total surprise."
Ms Gilson started the Joe Gilson Mobility Scheme after Joe died of cancer in 2008.
After writing to the Herald to offer Joe's old scooter to someone in need, she was surprised to find how many people in Honiton needed support - as 38 people replied to her ad.
From the first donation, Ms Gilson's scheme has seen thousands of mobility aids given out to people to enhance their lives. She said: "If Joe was still alive, he would be laughing his head off because the scheme started with his scooter.
"I think he would turn around and say 'Go for it girl, keep going'.
"I am going to keep going with the scheme - I will not stop.
"The only time I will stop is when I get my last breath.
"People in Honiton are marvellous people because they keep me going. I lived and breathed Joe. I miss him every day but doing this keeps him still alive. He probably would be very proud of me."
Aside from her scheme, Carole holds a weekly charity tombola, mentors people in the town and presents shields tol Brownies, Rainbows and Girl Guides based in Honiton. She said: "I mentor families and feed families.
"There are lots people families in Honiton that are struggling and they need support from the community. It's all about caring."
To date, the scheme has donated 925 scooters, 368 walkers, 395 electric wheelchairs, 950 walking sticks, 790 manual wheelchairs, eight stairlifts, 91 ramps, 419 shower seats and 339 toilet seats.
To donate a mobility aid to the scheme, email firstname.lastname@example.org