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Worksop’s Got Talent

Friday saw the return of Worksop’s Got Talent to North Notts Arena. The event, organised by James Clarke, was a sell out with 650 people attending to watch the talented acts and hear the celebrity judges’ comments on each one.

The event started with a bang, as performers from Rebecca’s Dance Studios ran onto the stage and performed to Beyonce’s End of Time. They also made appearances throughout the evening as backing dancers for the finalists.

The hosts this year were male model Sam Reece, and make-up artist to the stars, Katie Daley. They did a great job of introducing each act as well as interacting with the judges and audience. On the judging panel was Angela Norwood-Pearson from North Notts College, Harley Judge from Love Island, Big Brother winner Isabelle Warburton and star of The Apprentice, Harrison Jones.

The first half saw a great variety of performances, including musical theatre singers, comedic dancing, gymnastics and rapping. The bar was set very high from the start, with each act receiving glowing comments from the judges, and new favourites being chosen with each performance!

After the first six acts had performed, I had the opportunity to take to the stage myself to give a speech about the work of RP Fighting Blindness and the importance of events such as Worksop’s Got Talent. It was fantastic that I had the chance to spread awareness of inherited progressive sight loss conditions, and the important work we do to fund medical research and support those affected. I then introduced the first special guest performance of the evening, the Worksop Community Gossip Choir, who gave a stirring rendition of When You Believe.

During the interval we saw the return of some of the 2016 favourite acts, which entertained the audience while they were buying their raffle tickets, pre-ordering the show DVD and topping up their drinks. The second half of the show saw more talent take to the stage, with many of them receiving standing ovations from the audience and judges, including the soon to be winner…

This year the format for choosing the winner was different, with the audience being able to vote for the winner via an app. While the votes were being finalised, we were treated to a special performance from “The Spice Girls” and an amazing rendition of Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked by last year’s winner Verity. James also took to the stage to talk about how much the event meant to him, and to thank everyone involved.

All the acts came to the stage for the final results. There was a huge cheer as Chloe, a 10 year old who sang a powerful version of Adele’s When We Were Young was announced as the winner of Worksop’s Got Talent 2017! A worthy winner!

The event was a great success, with everyone having a great time, and over £7,000 raised for RP Fighting Blindness. Thank you so much to James Clarke for organising this brilliant event, and to everyone who took part both on stage and behind the scenes!

Emily Purchase
Fundraising Events Manager

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Sight Village, London

This week Clair Pudaruth and myself attended Sight Village, London, organised by Queen Alexandra College and held each year at Kensington Town Hall.  It is one of the UK’s leading exhibitions of technology, equipment and support services for people who are blind or partially sighted and for people experiencing age related eye problems.

It was a great event with over 800 visitors coming through the doors over the two days.  We got a chance to meet lots of new patients and professionals working with people with inherited retinal dystrophies, as well as having the chance to chat to members that stopped by to say hello.  We handed out a large amount of materials about our work, sold quite a few Christmas cards and answered questions that people had about the charity.  These events are crucial to our engagement work as they allow us to spread the word about our support services to people who may not be aware of what we offer.

There was a huge amount of new, exciting technologies on show, as well as many other charities and sight loss services organisations. We enjoyed meeting the other exhibitors, as well as the visitors! We felt the event to be a great success and look forward to the Sight Village programme of events for next year.

Denise Rawden
Volunteer Development Manager

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Liverpool Information Day

Monday 23rd October saw us hold our first Information Day in Liverpool for over 10 years.

We were supported by the team at Bradbury Fields, a local sight loss charity that has been supporting local people for 160 years.  They kindly allowed us to use their function rooms to hold our event and provided volunteers to help make the day go smoothly.  Philip Longworth even agreed to host the event and introduce our team of medical speakers.

I was joined by Antony Moore, our Head of Services and Vanessa Davies, our Development Manager who were on hand to talk to people about the work of the charity and offer support as needed. The day was well attended and we welcomed many faces, both familiar and new, from the local area and from as far afield as Hull.

We were keen to keep a local focus for the day and were joined by a fantastic team of medics from Royal Liverpool University Hospital.  Ms. Savita Madhusudhan, Consultant ophthalmologist gave an overview of Inherited Retinal Dystrophies and what patients can expect when they come to clinic.  Professor Simon Harding, Chair Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology then gave an overview of current research projects happening around the country.  The audience was provided with an opportunity to put their own questions to our medics which everyone enjoyed.

As well as hearing about the fantastic research that is taking place and the hope for the future, we wanted to explore the support that was available for people today.  We heard from  Corinna Swift, Eye Clinic Liaison Officer at Royal Liverpool eye clinic about the role of the ECLO and the support they can provide as well as hearing about the work of RP Fighting Blindness and local support charities such as Bradbury Fields, Christopher Grange, Henshaws, Galloways and Guide Dogs Liverpool. An additional interesting and enjoyable session was hearing three patients talk about their own stories of living with an inherited retinal dystrophy.

It was an informative day which everyone enjoyed. We have our final Information Day of the year coming up in London on Thursday 7th December, anyone interested in attending this event should contact the office on 01280 821334 or email info@rpfightingblindness.org.uk.

Denise Rawden
Volunteer Development Manager

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Para Sports Fest

On Sunday 1st October I headed up to Loughborough for a special event organised by Dan Powell, Paralympic athlete, entrepreneur and RPFB Challenge Event Champion!

Dan has his own company called Ability Training, which delivers workshops to gyms, personal trainers and sports coaches on how to train vision impaired people. The company is all about inclusivity, and the Para Sports Fest highlighted that perfectly.

The day involved groups of children of varying ages and abilities trying out different Para Sports, including goal ball, para football, athletics and Judo. The groups each had half an hour to try out the different sports, each being lead by industry experts and Paralympians. It was fantastic to see the children getting stuck in and growing in confidence throughout the sessions. The blindfolds didn’t seem to faze them at all and every single child there clearly enjoyed themselves.

Double Paralympic gold medallist Libby Clegg was running the athletics session along with her guide runner Chris, teaching the children all about guide running, and even running with some of the children herself. In another section of the hall, Dan helped to teach the Judo, giving some incredible demonstrations to the mesmerised kids!

In total there were over 100 children plus their parents there that day and it was fantastic to be able to speak to a lot of them about RP Fighting Blindness, and get a few donations too! As well as our collecting tins, Dan organised a raffle, and a portion of the entry fees will also be donated to RP Fighting Blindness.

Thank you to Dan for putting on this fantastic event, inviting us along and raising money too.

Emily Webb
Fundraising Events Manager

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Vision Impairment Awareness Training

Earlier this week the staff at RP Fighting Blindness undertook Vision Impairment Awareness Training, facilitated by East London Vision (ELVis). All staff undergo sighted guide training while working for the organisation, and we ensure regular refreshers on this, but the course we undertook on Monday was wider than just guiding.

We had introductions and refreshers on a range of topics including terminology, communication, giving directions and descriptions to those with sight loss, and learnt about the effects of a range of common eye conditions using simulation glasses. The course consisted of discussion groups, practical exercises and presentations about these areas.

Towards the end of the session, we were split into pairs, with one acting as a guide, and the other acting as a vision impaired person using a blindfold. We had to put our training into action and guide our colleagues around Buckingham town taking a pre-chosen route selected by the course leaders. This route incorporated roads, pavements, stairs, steps and slopes to give us a broad an understanding of how different terrains need to be approached as a visually impaired person.

A big thank you to ELVis for their time and expertise; we all came away feel better informed and more skilled at guiding, as well as having a better understanding of a range of sight loss conditions.

Thomas O’Neill
Communications & PR Manager

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Sight Village Manchester

Yesterday I attended Sight Village in Manchester representing RP Fighting Blindness, with our interim Head of Services Antony Moore. The event was held at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel and welcomed many delegates who visited the 50 or so companies, organisations and charities which were present.

We were delighted to speak with so many health and social care professionals, as well as teachers and other educators. We met some members of our organisation, and spoke with people recently diagnosed with RP but who hadn’t yet come to us for support or information.

Sight Village is a valuable opportunity to meet and catch up with sector partners and we were pleased to catch up some familiar and new faces. We’re excited to be working more closely than ever before with regional and local organisations as our new regional model develops and Sight Village Manchester was a great way to meet some local societies and service providers.

We look forward to meeting our sector colleagues, members of our community and sight loss professionals at the next Sight Village which is in Kensington in November.

Thomas O’Neill
Communications & PR Manager

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Oxford Local Group Anniversary Lunch

I was delighted to have been invited to the Oxford Local Group’s 21st anniversary celebrations in early September.

Our Local Group Network exists to bring people together in their area for socialisation, support and friendship. Some groups choose to fundraise too and share awareness of our cause. The Oxford Local Group does all these things, and a very proud and productive history they have too!

The celebration was held at a curry house, the Sun Koshi in Didcot, and we were all very well looked after. Chris Turner, the Local Group Leader, payed tribute to the many people who’d helped shape the group into such a success, and its past and future were toasted.

Everyone at RP Fighting Blindness wishes the Oxford Local Group the very best for the future, and we look forward to hearing more about what they’re getting up to soon!

Thomas O’Neill
Communications & PR Manager

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Guide Dogs Charity Presentation

Last week I was invited by the Reading Guide Dog team to talk about RP and the work of RP Fighting Blindness.
Thankfully the weather and traffic were kind and I was met on Thursday morning by a lovely team of people and lots of wonderful guide dogs in training.

These types of events are always beneficial, as well as enabling us to collaborate and network with our colleagues from other sight loss organisations they allow us to provide the latest information and raise awareness of our services to the most important people of all, those people affected by RP and other genetic retinal dystrophies.

Over 30 people attended the meeting and I provided an informal presentation and Q&A session about the history and work of RPFB. Topics covered included a definition of RP, inheritance patterns, genetics, research and all things RP related. Networking really is essential to the work of the charity.

Every time we get out and talk about what we do, about how important the charity is for those with RP and the essential information and support services we provide, we are raising our profile, gaining influence and reaching out to people who may need our help via our sight loss sector colleagues.

Denise Rawden
Volunteer Development Manager

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West Highland Way Trek

On Sunday 20th August a group of 11 people set off from Milngavie on the famous West Highland Way trek. The group were a mixture of abilities, but it soon became clear that they would look after each other and work as a team to complete this immense challenge.

The group was made up of Peter Long as trek leader, Joe Churcher, Teresa Waldron, Faye Maguire, Richard Boggie, Jane Robson, Richard Clark, Ted Dwyer, Celia Dawson, Alan Chamley, and Patrick Moran. They all hit it off from the start, and the banter and camaraderie was instantaneous!

It was a challenging week trekking through the Scottish Highlands through midge infested landscapes and torrential rain, but the bonds that formed within the group ensured that despite being wet, there was always someone to put a smile on your face. The weather wasn’t all bad, and the team were treated to stunning views each day. On the last day especially they were awed by a fantastically clear view of Ben Nevis.

I walked the last part of the trek with them through Fort William high street and for me that was the highlight of the whole week. Being a part of that special moment when they crossed the finish line is a memory I will cherish. The pure emotion that they felt after completing such a challenging journey was something really special.

To celebrate their amazing achievement we all went for a delicious meal at the Alexandra Hotel, and it was brilliant to hear people reflect on their highlights. Richard Boggie performed a wonderful poem to say thank you to Peter for his brilliant leadership and to me for supporting them. Peter then said a few words, highlighting the importance of fundraising for research and sharing his personal story of why he supports RP Fighting Blindness. Finally it was my turn. I handed out certificates and a medal to each person and reinforced how grateful I was to each of them for both fundraising and for being such an inspirational group to work with.

Thank you to all of the trekkers for raising such vital funds for the charity and for taking on this incredible challenge. Special thanks go to Peter for leading the group and for all the help he gave beforehand with the planning. Thank you also to Teresa for patching up injuries as First Aider, and to Joe who gave Peter a lot of support too.

Peter has kindly agreed to write his own account of the trek… watch this space!

Emily Webb
Fundraising Events Manager

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First Aid Training

Earlier this month Emily Purchase, Fundraising Events Manager, and I attended an emergency first aid course run by the British Red Cross in Milton Keynes. This one day course was to update our skills and refresh our first aid training. Emily is currently accompanying our intrepid West Highland Way trekkers in Scotland and wanted to be prepared for any eventuality! I’m our office first aider and attend many external events and wanted to ensure I was fully up to date with the latest emergency care theory.

Thanks must go to our brilliant trainer Helen, who guided us through CPR, burns, lacerations, bandaging and even the use of defibrillators! The group session consisted of a range of office and manual workers from many different organisations, so topics were broad and wide ranging.

Both of us feel so much more prepared in the event of an emergency and are already looking forward to our next course!

Thomas O’Neill
Communications & PR Manager

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