The judging panel for the RNIB See Differently Awards 2019 come from all different walks of life but all believe passionately in removing barriers for people with sight loss.
Chair of judging panel
Matt Stringer – CEO, RNIB
Matt Stringer joined RNIB in May 2019 after thirty years in the retail sector. He held senior leadership roles for well-known high street brands including Marks and Spencer, Carphone Warehouse and Mothercare.
Matt spent fifteen years at Marks and Spencer after joining as a merchandising graduate in the Textile division. His final role was as Director of International Operations.
After Marks and Spencer, Matt became the Managing Director of Carphone Warehouse in UK and Ireland. Most recently he played a leading role in the business transformation of Mothercare, and during his six years at Mothercare, he occupied the roles of UK Managing Director, Chief Operating Officer and Global Product Officer.
“The See Differently Awards are a brilliant opportunity for RNIB to recognise leaders in our sector who have shown great commitment in raising awareness of sight loss or successfully campaigning on issues that affect people who are blind or partially sighted. It is a great privilege, and very humbling for me as the CEO, to be able to participate in these awards and for us as an organisation to recognise six fantastic winners, as well as all the excellent nominees, across the categories.”
Kathy Evans – Chief Executive, Royal College of Opthalmologists
Kathy is CEO of the professional body for eye doctors and those training to become eye specialists. The Royal College of Opthalmologists has 4,000 members and champions excellence in the practice of ophthalmology. Kathy is a chartered accountant who worked in various sectors before joining the charitable world.
“The See Differently Awards provide a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the innovation and compassion that is a defining characteristic of the sector.”
Abi Fitzgibbon - Head of Social Change, RNIB
As Head of Advocacy and Campaigns at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) Abi spent 10 years at the heart of the reproductive rights movement in the UK, creating social change on some of the most challenging issues. More recently she ran the Public Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement team at regulator the Nursing and Midwifery Council. She is a trustee of charities Maternity Action and Antenatal Results and Choices, and a devoted long distance runner.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the panel for the See Differently Awards. There is brilliant work going on across the sector and I’m looking forward to shining a light on some of the people making it happen."
Hazel Johnstone - Senior Programmes Manager, People’s Postcode Lottery
Hazel has 20 years’ experience working in the voluntary sector, working directly for environmental and health charities as a professional fundraiser. In the last several years, as part of the People’s Postcode Lottery, Hazel has had strategic oversight and management of several trusts supporting charities working in the Arts, Culture, Health Wellbeing & Sport and Animal welfare. Hazel is passionate about our flexible funding model, so charities can focus on sustainability, collaboration and innovation within their sectors, ensuring that they grow and reach more beneficiaries as well as exploring collaborative opportunities for partnership with other funders to deliver on specific programme areas of need.
“I’m very passionate about inclusion and believe that everyone has the right to live their life to the full and have equal opportunities, no matter their background, barriers can and will be overcome. I’m proud to represent People’s Postcode Lottery on the judging panel and recognize individuals who are changing the world for blind and partially sighted people through their achievements.”
Sam Latif – Company Accessibility Leader, Proctor & Gamble
Sam Latif is P&G’s first Company Accessibility Leader and is leading the P&G’s thought leadership and commitment to making products, packaging and advertising accessible for the growing aging population and 1.7 billion people around the world with a disability. Sam’s passion has been inspired by her own personal access challenges she’s experienced as both a consumer and employee. Before being appointed the company’s first Special Consultant for Inclusive Design, Sam lead IT transformations across multiple worldwide businesses.
“Excited to be part of the See Differently Awards and recognise great accomplishments from great people!”
Louisa Lytton - Actress (Eastenders)
Louisa Lytton has been a supporter and ambassador of the British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society for 20 years. The condition lays very close to her heart. Louisa has worked on many projects helping to raise awareness of this life changing condition and has even produced a short documentary highlighting the day to day effects RP has on people’s lives.
“I'm so honoured to be involved with an awards ceremony that celebrates achievements and heroic attitudes of those effected by sight loss, and those that are changing the world for blind and partially sighted people."
Dr Amit Patel - Accessibility & Diversity Consultant, Writer, Author & Disability Rights Campaigner
Dr Amit Patel is a multi award winning disability rights campaigner, motivational speaker, author and independent accessibility consultant. He is registered severely sight impaired (blind) having lost his sight to keratoconus overnight in 2013.
Since then, Amit has been on a journey to learn to live with his sight loss, and to help others who are new to sight loss.
Today, Amit and his Guide Dog Kika travel through London and its surrounds on a daily basis, charting their journeys, challenges and the people they meet on their travels via their Twitter accounts (@Kika_GuideDog and @BlindDad_UK) and Instagram (@Kika_GuideDog). Amit’s first book, charting the story of his life changing sight loss and his journey back to independence will be published in February 2020.
Arlene Phillips - Presenter, judge, choreographer
Arlene Phillips is a show business legend, honoured as a CBE for her services to dance and charity. From creating the provocative and revolutionary dance group Hot Gossip in the 1970’s to working with stars from film, TV and theatre, Arlene has become a household name. Her work includes choreographing hit West End and Broadway musicals, Hollywood films, and iconic music videos, through to her television work as a dance show judge and presenter.
Peter White – Broadcast journalist and Presenter, BBC In Touch
Peter White began his broadcasting career at BBC Radio Solent in 1971, where he worked for over thirty years as reporter and presenter. He began working for In Touch, BBC Radio 4’s dedicated programme for blind and partially sighted listeners, in 1972 and has been presenting the programme since 1974. Peter became BBC’s Disability Affairs Correspondent in 1995, and is now described as BBC’s Disability Specialist. He was also the first blind journalist to present a report on BBC News, and currently presents Radio 4’s consumer programme, You and Yours.
“The surest way of improving services to visually impaired people is to show well publicised appreciation. This award will hopefully give credit where credit’s due, and encourage others.”