Queen's Birthday Honours: Founder of Broadwater café that gives disabled people work experience is recognised

Liz Crockett, inset, and Buddys Cafe in South Farm Road
Liz Crockett, inset, and Buddys Cafe in South Farm Road

The founder of a café in Broadwater that changes the lives of disabled people has been honoured by the Queen.

In 2007, Elizabeth Crockett opened Buddys Café in South Farm Road, and later a charity shop next door, which gives people with learning disabilities the opportunity to get work experience and their foot on the employment ladder.

For her services to the community, the 66-year-old from Broomfield Avenue, Worthing, was awarded a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, announced on Friday.

Elizabeth, known as Liz, said she was ‘quite humbled’ by the title and accepted it on behalf of ‘all the community groups and lovely people I have known and worked alongside over many, many years in Worthing’.

Growing up in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, her parents were godparents to a boy with Down’s Syndrome and were involved in Mencap, a learning disability charity.

So when she moved to the south coast for her first teaching job in Brighton she became a member of Worthing Mencap, joining the committee in 1978.

By 2003, Liz was the chairman of the group and four years later turned a butcher’s shop in South Farm Road into the café.

Thanks to Buddys, several volunteers have gone on to get jobs at supermarkets in the town.

Liz said: “People with learning disabilities want to do the things we take for granted. They want to be accepted.”

The café is currently closed for refurbishment, with a grand reopening planned for July. Liz also runs Buddys Badgers, a weekly club for 400 adults with disabilities.

Since 1989, she has been a member of St Mary’s Church in Broadwater, and in 2005 took over running a bereavement group.

Liz is the longest-serving governor at Broadwater C of E Primary School in Rectory Gardens, joining in 1998 and overseeing two ‘outstanding’ Ofsted inspections as chairman.

Having taught at Northbrook College for 27 years, where she was course leader for Access to Health, she moved on to lecturing at the University of Brighton and now goes into schools to observe students training to be teachers.

In fact, two pupils she taught at Northbrook were the midwifes that helped deliver her grandchild.

Liz also wanted to thank her husband Steve for supporting her over the years.