Happy Anniversary RNIB!

Post date: 
Thursday, 11 October 2018
Illustration showing the figure 150 and some confetti

From a well-known yellow bear to a keen gardener, Connect showcases some of your amazing stories as part of our 150th celebrations.

Since Dr Thomas Armitage founded what we now know as RNIB in 1868, there have been huge changes and advancements to the daily lives of people with sight loss. Here we highlight some of your incredible stories that you have shared with us.

Sean Stanley

"Thirty years ago, I lost my sight. I was shot in the head whilst I was working in my off-licence. I woke up three months later in hospital. I was informed I’d lost my sight.

"Apart from my wonderful wife, Shirley, with whom I’m celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary, Talking Books are the most important part of my life. From the moment I’m up in the morning, I’m constantly reading. Talking Books are everything to me. They’re a lifeline."

Maya-Liam Haynes

"I use a long purple cane. It has a black handle and then it’s bright purple all the way down. It’s got a marshmallow tip, which means I can move it from side to side in the street as I walk, so I know where I’m going and don’t crash into anything. Also, it lets people know that I am registered blind as well.

"I like it to be coloured because I’m proud to use it and it’s a really cool, vibrant thing to be using. Blind and partially sighted people have to do a lot of work to make sure that they know how to use a cane correctly and they’re confident with using a cane. A lot of that comes from the psychology around using one. If that means having a coloured one, then so be it."

Richard Cardell and Sooty

"Hi everybody, it’s Richard and Sooty here from the Sooty show. We are here because RNIB is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Sooty says happy 150th anniversary RNIB."

Kevin Smith

"I lost my sight through vasculitis, which is inflammation of blood vessels in the head. My optic nerves are dying. I used to garden before I lost my sight, but when I lost my sight, it was very sudden. I was very, very low. I had a very bad time for about six months. I wasn’t myself. I contacted RNIB and they suggested a charity called Thrive in London, who do lots of good things about gardening. I’ve got an NVQ in horticulture thanks to RNIB, which was lovely, because I never thought I’d garden again. Life’s a funny old thing isn’t it?"

Kevin visits the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

On a blazing hot summer’s day, Kevin was invited to share his thoughts on RNIB’s award‑winning community garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show: 

"The garden has tactile and fragrant plants. There is a lovely walkway where a cane could roll along the edge, stopping you from falling into plants, as well as a smashing water feature. There are tall and short plants as well as some lovely trees. The bark felt silky. But the best things about the garden were the windows that illustrated eye conditions. You know how difficult it is to explain to people, this is how I see things? Because you can’t, can you? It’s very difficult. I looked at it and went, yes, that’s it. That’s how I see. And everyone’s going, ‘Oh I’ve got you now’. And it’s really good. It’s a terrific garden."

Five facts about the RNIB community garden: 

  1. Input was provided by blind and partially sighted people to mark the fact that more than two million people are living with sight loss in the UK.
  2. Sensory aspects of the garden conveyed inclusivity, illustrating how the senses of touch, smell and sound are something that everyone can celebrate, no matter how they see.
  3. Steel walls with windows surrounded a central seating area. These windows featured filters simulating four of the most common eye conditions including glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
  4. The garden was designed by Steve Dimmock and Paula Holland and sponsored by Magus Private Wealth.
  5. The garden scooped the RHS’s People’s Choice Award for the Show and World Garden and a silver medal.

To read more stories visit our 150th anniversary page.


This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2018 edition of Connect Magazine.

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