To mark Galloway’s Society for the Blind’s 150th anniversary, it has launched a campaign with the Post to fund-raise for a minibus. Reporter NATALIE WALKER looks at the charity’s biggest event of the year.
One of Lancashire’s oldest charities marks a significant milestone as it celebrates 150 years of service to blind and partially sighted people in the community.
To honour the achievement, Galloway’s Society for the Blind, based in Penwortham, held a sight loss conference for its service users and supporters.
The event, held at Leyland Civic Centre, included a celebration of the history, recollection of changing times and a look to the future.
Sunila Jain and Partha Bhattacharyya, consultant ophthalmic surgeons at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust spoke about the role of ophthalmology and Dr Simon Clark of Manchester University talked about the advances in treatments for dry age related macular degeneration.
Stuart Clayton, chief executive of Galloway’s, comments: “In our 150th year, we wanted our AGM to be really special, which is why we introduced a sight loss conference. The day reflected 150 years of serving the local community whilst looking to the future and working in partnership with other professionals for the benefit of people affected by sight loss.
“It’s estimated that there are more than 39,000 people living with sight loss in Lancashire alone, age related macular degeneration being the leading cause.
“Due to an aging population, the number of people living with sight loss is set to rise by 10 per cent by 2020.
“We know that sight loss is, and will continue to, affect people across our community in a big way. That’s why our conference, a first in recent times for Galloway’s, was aimed to attract anybody affected by sight loss, whether that be directly, professionally or people that have an interest in the history and future of Galloway’s.
Over the years, the work of Galloway’s has changed with the times and adapted to the needs of local people living with sight loss.
Stuart adds: “Today, we’re extremely proud to support more than 7,000 blind and partially sighted people every year across Lancashire and Sefton, through a wide range of high impact services.
“Our work aims to support people through any stage of the sight loss journey including emotional and practical support at the point of diagnosis, specialist low vision clinics which aim to support people with everyday living, an extensive outdoor pursuit’s programme, social groups and much more.”
All services offered at Galloway’s work towards ensuring that nobody in the local community has to face sight loss alone or without the right support.
John Ward, chairman of Galloway’s, adds: “Galloway’s is only here today because of the generosity of our beneficiaries and the general public, we are reliant on donations and legacies to continue our work. Whilst we couldn’t have continued without financial support, our volunteers have played an essential role in enabling Galloway’s to support local blind and partially sighted people for the last 150 years. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has made our work and achievements possible over the last century and a half.”
Stuart says: “Looking forward, we know there’s so much more we can do for people living with sight loss in our community, we know that given sight loss is an age related disability, we are all living longer and services are shrinking. We need to ensure we’re at the top of our field to provide essential support. But we also know we can’t do this without the continued support of our local community.”
“If you’re in a position to support our passion to reach even more people affected by the devastation of sight loss by helping us with the £1m we need to find this year alone, please do. Any amount you can give will make a life changing difference to somebody living with sight loss in your community.”
The Post has launched a campaign - Gallowheels - in conjunction with Galloway’s to raise £50,000 for a new minibus.
So far, readers have donated £5,000. Can you spare any more? To make a donation visit www.galloways.org.uk/gallowheels; call: 01772 744148 Text: GALL25 £amount, £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10, to 70070 or send a cheque payable to Galloway’s to: Galloway’s Society for the Blind, Howick House, Howick Park Avenue, Penwortham, PR1 0LS. Are you holding any fund-raising events to support Galloway’s? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org