Our heritage

Founded in 1856, the charity supported Cornish miners who had lost their sight due to mining accidents and the hazardous working conditions of the time. It was the first organised attempt to improve the lives of people with visual impairments living in Cornwall, over a decade before the RNIB was founded.

Originally called The Society for the Itinerant Teaching of the Blind in the County of Cornwall to Read the Sacred Scriptures and to Write, the charity has been known by a few different, and slightly more catchy, names over the years. The most recent transformation coming in April 2015 when the charity changed its name from Cornwall Blind Association to iSightCornwall in order to reflect the views of visually impaired clients, many of whom did not identify themselves as being ‘blind’.

Today, iSightCornwall supports approximately 4,000 people living with sight loss each year to lead active and independent lives.

Timeline

1856 – The Society for the Itinerant Teaching of the Blind in the County of Cornwall is founded to support miners who lost their sight in mining accidents.

1910 – Volunteers were first introduced and began collecting money for the Society.

1920 – The Blind Persons Act was passed.  All societies related to people with sight loss had to be registered and co-operate together. The Society changed its name to Home Teaching Society of the Blind in Cornwall and County Association with Plymouth.

1925 – The name was thankfully shortened to the Cornwall County Association for the Blind and Partially Sighted.

1927 – The Unification of Voluntary Collections agreement was approved by the Ministry of Health. All money raised by public effort in Cornwall would be shared between the National Institute for the Blind (25 per cent) and Cornwall County Association for the Blind (75 per cent).

1944 – Launceston Lunch Club was founded.

1949 – Malabar Home for the Blind was officially opened by Lord Lieutenant Edward H W Bolitho on 18 February 1949.

1955 – The first Malabar Rally was held in the grounds of Malabar House.

1961 – Saltash Blind and Partially Sighted Club was founded.

1971 – Malabar Home for the Blind was sold to Cornwall County Council on 1 September 1971.

1972 – The Association introduced a new constitution which put members at the heart of the charity.

1994 – The Association moved into Penryn House renaming it the Sight Centre.

1996 – The first edition of Outlook magazine was published.

1997 – The Association changed its name to Cornwall Blind Association.

2006 – ‘A Cornish Vision’ was published celebrating 150 years of the Cornwall Blind Association.

2015 – The charity rebranded as iSightCornwall to reflect the needs of everyone with sight loss whatever their age, circumstance or condition.

2016 – The iSightCornwall Resource Centre was officially opened by HRH The Duke of Gloucester to celebrate 160 years of the charity.

2017 – Cornwall’s first Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) was introduced.

2018 – The charity won Best Third Sector Business at the Cornwall Business Awards.

2019 – The largest single fundraising event for the charity was held at the Tregothnan open garden weekend raising £50,000 across two days.

2020 – The charity won the Share Award at the Annual Visionary Awards for its innovative response to the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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