Monday, 21 June 2021

Henley Rotary Club

AT the meeting on July 26, members were delighted to welcome Tom Conlin, chief executive

AT the meeting on July 26, members were delighted to welcome Tom Conlin, chief executive of Berkshire Vision, as their guest speaker.

He explained the role of the charity, formerly the Berkshire Blind Society, which was formed in 1910.

Berkshire Vision offers support to visually impaired people of all ages, with a comprehensive range of activities and information.

Mr Conlin described how demographics have changed so that an increasing number of 40- to 50-year-olds and even teenagers are now seeking the help of the charity.

He explained how one benefit of the name change was that many who did not consider themselves blind but rather visually impaired were now availing themselves of its services and so improving the quality of their lives.

Some 2,100 members now enjoy the benefit of the charity’s resource centre, which introduces them to more than 200 electronic and technical items. The charity also maintains an outreach team which regularly visits and assesses the needs of its members who are referred to it by GPs, opticians and other agencies assisting the visually impaired. It liaises with the police and the fire service.

Mr Conlin described how the group’s cricket team had beaten cricket teams from Eton College and Bradfield College, the opponents being suitably handicapped by masks to create a level playing field.

Two dragon boat teams have competed in national events assisted only by sighted helmsmen and drummers. Members of all ages are introduced to the enjoyment of swimming.

As with all such charities, funding remains a problem. Of the £350,000 needed each year, only £90,000 is provided by the local authority.

A vote of thanks was given by Barry Prior and the members expressed their appreciation for a very informative talk.

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