Meet our volunteers
Shirley has been running the Saltash BAPS (Blind and Partially Sighted) Social Club for 20 years. Thanks to Shirley and her team of volunteer drivers, up to 40 members from Saltash and the surrounding areas can enjoy the entertainment and refreshments that she organises each fortnight.
Shirley is also an active fundraiser, raising money throughout the year so that she can treat club members to special days out and she does all of this despite being registered as Severely Sight Impaired herself.
“I took over the running of the club in 1999. One day I went in as a member and came out as the club organiser! I get such a lot out of doing it. They’re a lovely group of people.”
Until her retirement in 2012, Lindsay worked for an organisation that used to run clubs for people with visual impairments. However, by 2013 the organisation had closed and the future of the clubs, including the Townshend Dance Club, was in doubt. But thanks to Lindsay volunteering to run the club and iSightCornwall stepping in to provide a grant, Townshend Dance Club continues to run to this day.
“I chose to volunteer because I’d made so many friends at the Dance Club and I didn’t want to see it close. It is a lifeline for many of the members and we’ve all got to know each other really well. My role is to consult with the other volunteers and members of the club to make sure everyone is happy. This helps to provide the wonderful atmosphere we have here. I get so much out of doing it that I honestly can’t understand why people wouldn’t volunteer!”
Jenny has been volunteering with iSightCornwall for 17 years. During that time she has been a driver, fundraiser, volunteer trainer and club organiser. In fact without Jenny stepping in the Dance Club in Par would have had to close years ago but soon after she began volunteering she became the organiser and the club is still running to this day.
Jenny loves keeping busy – she took a break from full-time teaching to have children, only to become so involved with volunteering that she never went back and from then only ever worked part-time. Not only does she volunteer for iSightCornwall, she has been an editor and reader for the Cornwall Talking Newspaper and Magazine for the Visually Impaired for over 35 years, of which she is also now Chairman. She also takes part in fundraising and store collections for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Cornwall Hospice Care.
“I was lucky enough to be able to combine part-time work with volunteering. You get far more back than you ever give. I’ve formed so many friendships with both clients and fellow volunteers. Volunteering has become such a big part of my life I don’t know what I would do without it.”
David served as a police officer for 42 years, both in the military and civilian police forces. During that entire time, David only took 15 days off sick so it was no surprise when he retired that he wanted to keep active. David applied to become a volunteer driver after seeing an advert in the local paper 15 years ago and has been volunteering for iSightCornwall ever since. In 2002 he became involved with the BLIS Singers where he’s now the Club Organiser.
“I’ve always enjoyed driving and have travelled far and wide, covering Europe, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Canada on different occasions. When I retired I wanted to give something back to the community and becoming a volunteer driver was the perfect opportunity to do that. One of my most enjoyable roles was helping out with holidays for visually impaired people. I would drive a minibus of up to 15 people to places such as The Lake District, Weston Super Mare and Bognor Regis for a short holiday which everyone really enjoyed. Being able to give people experiences that I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy myself is one of the best things about volunteering”
Chris has been volunteering with iSightCornwall for several years and during that time has become a valued member of the volunteering team.
In fact, Chris always goes above and beyond what we would expect from a volunteer. He sits with patients in the hospital whilst they wait for their appointments, even, as happened recently, when those appointments overrun by four hours! Our clients often tell us that Chris is kind and considerate and his willingness to take them to their clubs is an essential part of them feeling less isolated.
Chris is thought of very highly by us here at iSightCornwall. His cheerful nature and willingness to help out is very much appreciated and he puts in many hours on behalf of the charity. We feel very fortunate as an organisation to have him as one of our volunteers.
“I spent many years working as a chef before retiring in 2015. I lasted three weeks of retirement before I got bored with daytime TV and had run out of good books. I opened the paper and saw an advert from iSightCornwall looking for volunteers. I knew how sight loss could affect people because my mum has had glaucoma for years and I’ve seen how badly it has affected her ability to do things. I also suffered vision loss myself for several months due to diabetes and during that time I couldn’t walk unaided. I was so thankful to the eye clinic at Treliske for helping me get my sight back so being able to help others living with sight loss really appealed to me.
“I became a volunteer driver, taking people to and from their hospital appointments. I also take three lovely people to and from the shooting club in St Austell every Wednesday afternoon. I’ve even qualified as a Range Officer now because I always stay to help out at the club, setting up the guns and clearing away at the end of the session.
“I’m happy, I love life, and I love helping people out. And if I can go that bit further for someone then I will always try to do it.”