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Winners of the RNIB See Differently Awards 2024 announced!

Winners of the RNIB See Differently Awards 2024

Winners of the RNIB See Differently Awards 2024

We’ve just announced our worthy winners of the RNIB See Differently Awards 2024, supported by People’s Postcode Lottery, for making a better world for people with sight loss. Our awards pages will tell you who these amazing people are and why they deserve their awards.

We’ve announced the amazing winners of the RNIB See Differently Awards 2024 and, with other nominees and RNIB supporters, helped them celebrate their success at an evening event in central London full of glamour and fun.

Our host, award-winning blind Scottish comedian and writer Jamie MacDonald ensured there was plenty of laughter while Kelsey Ellison, as Norma Night, entertained guests in the elegant ballroom in 8 Northumberland Avenue with her “cowgirly pop”.

From Campaigner of the Year to Employer of the Year and more, scroll down to find out who our worthy winners are.

6th Duke of Westminster Lifetime Achievement Award

Sir Robin Millar CBE is an internationally renowned British music producer, businessman and disability rights campaigner. As one of the world’s leading record producers he has won every major international music award. He has more than 160 gold and platinum discs, including 44 No. 1 hits, representing over £400 million of sales worldwide and bringing more than £300 million in overseas income to the UK.

Sir Robin Millar CBE

From left; Matt Stringer, CEO, RNIB, Sir Robin Millar CBE, Lifetime Achievement Winner, and Peter Leathem, OBE.

Listen to Sir Robin talk about his motivation and career highlights

Read more on Sir Robin Millar's story

In 2010, Sir Robin stepped away from full-time music production to concentrate on disability rights helping employers to unlock potential in disabled applicants. The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to someone who has had a long-term impact on the lives of people with sight loss.

Keith Valentine, CEO of the Vision Foundation and former director of External Affairs at RNIB, explains why Sir Robin is a worthy winner in his nomination: “Robin’s fame and success in the music industry is unparalleled, but his lifetime dedication to influential voluntary work, fundraising and taking his role as a role model for other visually impaired people seriously, is unique too. Not only that, I can personally attest to the impact that he has had on my life and my prospects as a blind person seeking to pursue a senior career.”

Sir Robin, who has retinitis pigmentosa and was registered blind at 16, is a music industry legend, producing some of the most iconic albums in the last 40 years, including Sade’s Diamond Life. He is very clear on how the initial diagnosis affected him: “My sight loss diagnosis was on my sixteenth birthday. I’d travelled to Moorfield hospital on the bus and arrived at 10 o’clock. I left at midday with a White Cane and a pair of dark glasses, having been told you will lose your eye sight completely in the next 20 years. “And, on the bus journey home I changed from absolute shock – to the beginnings of a plan - and that plan was I’ve got 20 years to become independent, to become successful and to try to remain cool – and I mean cool as in not a figure of fun.” Immense success followed, as his work with Sade, Spandau Ballet, “Everything But The Girl and many, many more has shown. His plan wasn’t all smooth sailing but his love of music remains. Sir Robin says: It didn’t go without hiccup but that’s broadly the plan I stuck to. I love and value the part that all music plays in cheering up the mundane, in taking us out of ourselves and, in the way, that sometimes a four minute song can that a novel cannot.”

After moving away from full-time music production to give more time to his charitable work, in 2010 he cofounded Blue Raincoat Music which bought Chrysalis Records in 2016, with its prestigious back catalogue, including Blondie and Sinead O’Connor. Blue Raincoat Music works on principles of equality, diversity and inclusion. Sir Robin explains why: “The reason is obvious, the business is more successful because of it. The more diverse your workforce, the more inclusive your business, the more money you will make.”

In September 2020, Sir Robin was appointed Chair Designate of disability charity Scope, after serving eight years as Global Ambassador for Leonard Cheshire Disability. He mentors musicians who are starting on their careers too. Sirine Jahangir, a musician and singer-songwriter, reflects on his support: “Sir Robin has not only become a phenomenal mentor, he has also become a friend to me. Experience has painted him a generous man with a humble heart and that is truly the best way I can describe him.” His motivation is clear: “I think I used to feel that I was somehow exceptional, that I’d made my way in the world and, you know, beaten the system and beaten the hostility. But, of course, I’m not it. The default position of people with disabilities is determination. Being knocked, picking yourself up. “That’s what defines disability in an amazing, amazing way.” He says he is “absolutely delighted” to accept the lifetime achievement award: “More than anything else because I’m waving at everyone else, young, middle aged or old and I’m saying there’s nothing special about me. If I can do it, you can do it.”

Campaigner of the Year sponsored by Microsoft

Winner: Margaret Rees

Margaret is a campaigner living with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). She has campaigned to improve the accessibility of health information, sharing her experience with the Welsh Government and taking part in patient panels and surveys. Margaret has also been featured on BBC Cymru, highlighting the difficulties people with sight loss face when accessing public transport. Margaret’s campaigning has helped secure commitments from both the Welsh Government and Cardiff City Council to improve the way they support blind and partially sighted people.

“The nomination for Margaret Rees was super impressive and I think one of the things you fear as a blind and partially sighted person is receiving correspondence which is serious, something really personal and private, that you are not able to read. Can you imagine getting a loved one or a young child or a neighbour to have to read such important information? The Make it Make Sense campaign that Margaret ran, amongst other things, was really about putting such correspondence directly into the hands of blind and partially sighted people to be self-sufficient and to own their own private information which is super important.” - David Clarke, CEO Paralympics

Margaret Rees, Campaigner of the Year

From left; Charles Eales, UK Lead of Microsoft Philanthropies, Margaret Rees, Campaigner of the Year Winner, and Halima Begum, CEO, Oxfam.

Eye Care Professional of the Year supported by Roche

Winner: Dr Jane Macnaughton

Dr Jane Macnaughton is a Specialist Optometrist at Leicester Royal Infirmary and a Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University. She has played a key role in the development of low vision clinics across the UK and supports her NHS patients to live safe and independent lives. She helped create the first training course for ECLOs and has written well-known textbooks for optometry students. At Anglia Ruskin University, Jane teaches 80 students a year. She recently gained a PhD in vision rehabilitation and is currently writing a book about a visually impaired dragon.

Dr Jane Macnaughton, Eye Care Professional of the Year

From left; Dr Jane Macnaughton, Eye Care Professional of the Year Winner, and Dr Louise Gow, Clinical Lead, RNIB.

Highly Commended: Harry Petrushkin

Mr Harry Petrushkin is a consultant ophthalmologist, specialising in uveitis, a type of inflammatory eye disease. He works at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital. Described as “the driving force behind a new treatment for patients with hypotony (low pressure),” Harry has been commended for creating new solutions for existing eye problems, its innovation and impact.

Roche has provided financial support toward the organisation of the 2024 RNIB See Differently Awards, but has had no input into the creation of it.

Harry Petrushkin, a white man with brown hair wearing scrubs, looking at the camera while smiling in a room with a microscope.

Harry Petrushkin

Best Content Creator of the Year supported by Netflix

Winner: Molly Watt

Molly Watt is a social media content creator who is living with Usher Syndrome. Using the handle mollywatttalks, Molly has over 40,000 followers across Facebook, X, TikTok and Instagram. Molly’s content documents her life as a deafblind person and highlights the need for – and the benefits of – assistive technology. She uses her platform to tackle misconceptions about deafblindness. She has also given a TedX talk on the barriers faced by disabled people in the NHS and been retweeted by Apple’s Phil Schiller. Molly has appeared in the media numerous times.

Molly Watt, Best Content Creator of the Year

From left; Lucy Edwards, Influencer, Disability Activist, and Journalist, Molly Watt, Best Content Creator of the Year Winner, and Vivienne Francis, Chief Social Change Officer, RNIB.

Team of the Year sponsored by Meta

Winner: SeeAbility’s Special Schools Eye Care Team

SeeAbility’s Special Schools Eye Care Team holds eye clinics in special schools across London. The team’s service was the first of its kind in the UK and last year it performed 2,800 eye tests on children with additional needs. The team’s research and practice provided the proof of concept for the Government’s roll out of an eye care service for children at special schools across England.

"Specialist eye care services for children with learning and communication difficulties remains a huge area of unmet need across the country. However, Malvi and her team’s dedicated work over the past decade in this area have been instrumental in building national guidelines for setting out best practice in this complex area of paediatric care." - Gus Alexiou, Forbes journalist

SeeAbility, Team of the Year

From left; Trish Sail, Winner of BBC's Race Across The World, SeeAbility’s Special Schools Eye Care Team of the year Winner, and Emeline Therias, Researcher, Meta.

Employer of the Year sponsored by T&Pm

Winner: Tesco

Tesco achieved RNIB’s Visibly Better Employer quality standard in April 2022. Since then, it has seen an increase in the number of blind and partially sighted employees working across the business. The company helps colleagues thrive by providing specialist equipment such as tablets and tactile aids. Tesco has a Disability Network to help sighted colleagues understand the lived experience of colleagues with sight loss, as well as a Diverse Talent Community to help blind and partially sighted employees “own their own careers”.

“Tesco are really embracing the changes they need to make right across their business from blind and partially sighted people already in their business but then also to attract blind and partially sighted people to their business. And that is not only about making the processes and recruitment channels accessible, but it’s also about educating their wider employee networks around disability and sight loss specifically.” - David Clarke, CEO of Paralympics

Tesco, Employer of the Year

From left; Tesco, Employer of the Year Winner, Benedict Pringle, Partner, T&Pm, and Simon Minty, Consultant and Public Speaker.

Volunteer of the Year sponsored by Woods Valldata

Winner: Suzie Simons

Suzie Simons is the founder and CEO of Eye Matter, a peer support organisation for blind and partially sighted people. She volunteers full time with Eye Matter, organising hundreds of online and inperson events each year, supporting members and raising awareness and funds for the organisation. In 2023 Suzie secured charitable status for Eye Matter. The charity helps to educate, empower and entertain its members.

Suzie Simons, Volunteer of the Year

From left; Jo Keller, Head of Volunteering, RNIB, Suzie Simons, Volunteer of the Year Winner, and Alistair Petrie, Actor.

Highly commended: Judith Barton

Judith Barton has volunteered with SeeScape (formally Fife Society for the Blind) since 1988. As well as being a volunteer braille teacher, Judith also volunteers as a SeeScape Rehabilitation Specialist, supporting adults with sight loss to live independently. She has been commended for almost 40 years of volunteering in numerous roles - across many charities – including rehabilitation and teaching people braille.

Judith Barton, a white woman wearing a striped top, smiling at the camera

Judith Barton

Design for Everyone Award sponsored by Red Bee Media

Winner: Rebecca Atkinson for Mixmups

Created by Rebecca Atkinson, who has retinitis pigmentosa (RP), Mixmups is a Channel 5 Milkshake! show for children. Two of the show’s main characters live with disabilities, including one, Pockets the Bear, who has sight loss and uses a guide dog and cane. It was developed in conjunction with children with disabilities and seeks to normalise life with a disability. All 52 episodes are audio described by an actor with sight loss. Mixmups is due to launch in Canada, Ireland and Australia this year. It has been featured in The Guardian and on BBC News.

Rebecca Atkinson for Mixmups, Design for Everyone Award

From left: Rebecca Atkinson for Mixmups, Design for Everyone Award Winner, Tom Wootton, Red Bee Media, Head of Access Services, Claire Sisk, Blind Content Creator.