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2018. Patrick Poitevin

Patrick Poitevin, from Derbyshire, is an astronomer who set up ‘Scopes4SEN’ with his late wife Joanne to provide free telescopes and astronomy kits for children with special educational needs across the UK.

Prior to moving from Belgium to the UK 25 years ago, Patrick and Joanne had established the ‘Solar Eclipse’ newsletter and international conferences. Following their move, they wanted a way to engage more young people in studying astronomy and ‘Scopes4SEN’ was set up in 2015.  The charity’s aim is to give children with special educational needs, as well as vulnerable people, the chance to observe the Moon, planets and stars through access to high-quality telescopes and astronomy equipment.  

Since then, 2,000 telescopes have been distributed to locations across the UK and ‘Scopes4SEN’ have managed to raise over £81,000, which has been used to buy other astronomy equipment, in addition to telescopes, including digital books, binoculars, SUNoculars, digital microscopes, and magnifiers. Joanne passed away in 2020, but Patrick has continued sharing their expertise and passion through the charity, including  running astronomy outreach projects and visits with SEND schools and children’s hospitals.

In a personal letter to Patrick, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: 

“I want to thank you for the remarkable charity you set up with your beloved late wife Joanne, helping children reach for the stars.

“You have gifted thousands of telescopes to children with special educational needs in schools and hospitals across the United Kingdom.

“Through your outreach programmes you are sharing your infectious passion for astronomy.

“Because of your dedication, thousands of young people have been inspired to look up, feel the wonder, and find their own points of light across the night sky.”

Patrick said:

“Scopes4SEN is very pleased and honoured to receive the Prime Minister’s daily Points of Light award.  In just over 7 years Scopes4SEN donated nearly 2000 telescopes to UK based locations who cater special educational needs, for the vulnerable and those with disabilities.  The responses we receive, the feedback, is fuel to continue.  This award is truly the cherry on the cake.  Thank you so so so MUCH!”

See more about ‘Scopes4SEN

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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