Some of you may already know that Rodney Powell, the Chair of our Board of Trustees, has been diagnosed with lung cancer and had an operation last week. The good news is that it is treatable. But Jenny Pearce will serve as Acting Chair for the time being so that Rodney can be freed from his trustee responsibilities and focus on getting back to full strength. I am sure that you will all join me in wishing Rodney all the very best and a full and speedy recovery.

I hope many people have had the opportunity to listen to my tribute to our colleague Roger Clifton who sadly passed away recently. Many of us attended Roger’s funeral last Friday. It was a fitting send off and celebration of Roger’s life. His brother-in-law did a brilliant speech and I once again learnt more I didn’t know about Roger.

That was the second brilliant speech I heard last week. Simon Brown, from Blind Veterans UK, was the after dinner speaker at Visionary’s Awards Dinner as part of the Visionary Conference 2017. Simon was both entertaining and inspiring, and brought everyone to their feet. I highly commend Simon as an after dinner speaker! There was a great feeling of change and improving collaboration throughout the whole conference. We’ll be looking to further strengthen our partnership with Visionary and the conference was an opportunity for us to have a number of conversations to move that forward.

Last month I had the great pleasure of attending Illuminate Freedom’s ‘Freedom Night’ – a Friday evening social event with visually impaired DJs. There were about 50 people clearly having a great time. Louise and her team are to be complimented on a wonderful event. We are delighted to be able to support it.

Lastly, I want to share with you some wonderful news. A lady named Rosa Gomez, who we have worked with for about five years, had her first job interview in some 10 years and was offered the job! Rosa is a very talented and determined lady who has been dealing with losing her sight and most of the use of her arms. Rosa has been a volunteer with us and has been involved in our Technology Service and also our Employment Programme, which has helped lead to this opportunity for her. She has now been employed as a Case Work Coordinator at Stay Safe East, a support service for disabled people who are victims of abuse.

I did a mock interview with Rosa ahead of her interview and when I looked at the job description and listened to her speak, I thought ‘she’s got a good chance of getting this’, and I was thrilled of course when she called me to say that she had. Rosa is such a great role model and I’m sure you will all join me in congratulating her and wishing her the best in her new role. Only 39,999 to go to close the employment rate gap!

 

Peter Corbett

Chief Executive