RNIB volunteer awarded Community Hero award by BBC Radio Lancashire

Keith standing with his wife Carol, holding the award.
Keith Ainsworth, also known as “The Sooty Man” through his years of fundraising, was recently awarded the Community Hero award by BBC Radio Lancashire. 

Keith was honoured for raising nearly £500k in his 35 years of fundraising for RNIB. In his acceptance speech, Keith modestly said: “It says ‘Community Hero award’ but I think all of the people in and around Morecombe and Lancaster are the heroes for donating all this money.”

He’s previously talked to us about his passion for raising money and said: "When I first started my sight was perfectly alright, but about 15 years later I started to lose my sight through diabetes…so maybe something was telling me to go and work for the blind!

I’m known as "The Sooty Man" in the Morecambe area, a lot of people call me that. That’s because they see me putting out and taking in the Sooty collection boxes in various places like shops, pubs and clubs. Then I fetch those Sooty boxes and take them home, where my wife, my two daughters, and I count all the money. There can be anything in them from one to two and half thousand pounds in loose change.

In the past, I’ve organised lots of different events. I remember when we did a bus pull; we had fifteen teams who had to pull a double decker bus down Morecambe Promenade, and the fastest team would win the prize. At the same time, there was a bungee jump going on at the local rugby club, so I went down there on the off-chance of getting some teams to do the bus pull. Well, I managed to get the promise of three teams, if I did the bungee jump myself.  ‘Righto’ I said…and I did the bungee jump. It was brilliant - I wanted to go up again!

What I like about volunteering, is that it gets me out and I feel I’m doing something worthwhile. Both before and after being registered blind, I felt I was giving something back to life. I feel as though I’ve achieved something, and that’s a very good feeling.”

Well, whether Keith thinks so or not, we think he’s a hero and are so pleased he was recognised with this award. 

You can listen to Keith's speech on the BBC website, it starts around 1:04:50 into the program.