Volunteer Celebrates 20 Years in Charge

January 2, 2020 10:14 am

One of our volunteers who goes ‘above and beyond’ has marked 20 years of running a social club for people living with sight loss.

Shirley Evans runs the Saltash Blind and Partially Sighted (BAPS) club, a social club for people in Saltash and the surrounding areas who are living with sight loss. Every fortnight Shirley arranges for volunteer drivers to bring more than 30 members to and from the club so they can enjoy the entertainment and refreshments which she’s organised.

Shirley is also an active fundraiser, raising money throughout the year so she can treat club members to special days out and she does all of this despite being registered as Severely Sight Impaired herself. This year Shirley is celebrating 20 years as Club Organiser even though it was a role she hadn’t intended to take on.

One day in November 1999 she went into the club as a member and came out as the Club Organiser and she’s never looked back.

Shirley said: “I can’t believe it’s been 20 years, I went in as a member when I lost my sight, took over the books and now I’m still doing it. When I started we had 15 members and during my time in charge we’ve gotten it as high as 49 members! At the moment we have 37 members which is still really good and we will always welcome more.

“My favourite part about running the club is helping other visually impaired people and making them happy, just doing something to help people is the best bit.”

To celebrate the anniversary, Shirley was joined by her club members and fellow volunteers at Saltash Working Men’s Club. They also welcomed a number of special guests including Mayor of Saltash, Gloria Challen as well as the acting Chief Executive from iSightCornwall, Carole Theobald.

Shirley said: “It was a lovely evening and we had a fantastic time. It was a 20 year celebration and a Christmas party all in one so everyone enjoyed it. We were joined by special guests like the Mayor and had entertainment from Ocean City who sang for us.” Saltash BAPS is one of iSightCornwall’s 12 affiliated clubs across the county. Shirley works closely with the team here at iSightCornwall, which is the first centre of resource for all in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly for those who are affected by sight loss.

Carole Theobald from iSightCornwall said: “Shirley always goes above and beyond for the club members and they think the world of her because of that. She is always willing to help and support people and she is a fantastic volunteer. We really couldn’t do it without her.

“It was lovely to be able to join Shirley, the BAPS members and the volunteers to celebrate all she has done in her 20 years running the club.”

Shirley always works hard to help members of the club. When Rosie, one of the members, mentioned she’d always wanted to try horse riding, Shirley found someone who could take Rosie out on a horse one weekend. To mark her 20th anniversary, Rosie nominated Shirley for the Saltash Citizen of the Year award, which she won to everyone’s delight.

Rosie said: “Shirley has always been a great inspiration and encouragement for those of us who cherish the opportunity to get out and be with other people. For 20 years, she’s arranged countless trips out for cream teas, fish and chips, horse drawn barge outings, turkey and tinsel holidays, Christmas meals and so much more.

“Since I joined about three years ago, Shirley and her partner Gordon have shown endless kindness. Shirley even offered to help arrange sailing and horse riding outside the club which was amazing.

“Members’ birthdays and special occasions have always been remembered and when anyone was in hospital or unwell Shirley would be there. We can’t thank her and her fellow helpers enough. She is like a candle in the dark for us.”

Saltash BAPS is an affiliated club for  iSightCornwall, we have 12 affiliated clubs across the county from Ludgvan to Launceston, all run by volunteers. Click here to find out more about our clubs and activities.

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