Keynote Speaker, marathon runner and triathlete Blind Dave Heeley was given an enthusiastic reception at our packed annual forum on 18 November. His talk was the highlight of a day well spent and enjoyed by all.
It was our largest event yet and has received great feedback. Over two hundred and twenty-five visually impaired people and guests joined us at Portway Lifestyle Centre. As always, we had a warm welcome from the staff at the venue. Willing and enthusiastic volunteers soon arrived to get everything ready and to make sure that the day went well. There was plenty of help for our members and visually impaired guests to browse the exhibitor stands and mingle with friends old and new.
Sandwell’s Mayor Cllr Dr Ann Jaron, and her consort (her sister) Eve Keeling, opened the event. They soon got into the spirit of the day, engaging with members and chatting to all with a warm, friendly smile.
Lindsay Delaney, our accounts auditor, gave us a clean bill of health for our finances. SVI Chair, Tony, summarised the work we’ve been doing over the last year. Followed by an encouraging speech from the Mayor showing real knowledge of and a genuine commitment to the work we are doing.
We said au revoir and thank you to one of our Trustees, Kevin, who stood down this year. We re-elected Tony, Karen and Ray to the Board of Trustees. And welcomed new Trustees Mike and Kiran.
Moving on to the main speakers…
Rebecca Davies from Serco introduced their new training video which had been made in partnership with SVI. The video, for bin crews across the country, featured several of our members. They talked about their difficulties when bins are left randomly across the street and stressed the importance of keeping pavements clear.
Blind Dave was an entertaining and humorous speaker who regaled us all with tales of his various running, cycling and swimming experiences. Shark infested waters, desert heat, ice baths – he rose to the challenge and moved quickly onto the next. An inspiring example of how to overcome barriers to achieve great things.
Every year SVI celebrates its community champions. This year we were delighted to recognise the achievements of eleven of our younger volunteers, aged under 18. These caring young people are relatives of our members and supporters who have helped us at various events throughout the year. The Mayor and Blind Dave presented the certificates to warm applause. A surprise presentation was also made to SVI’s dedicated Development Worker, Sandra, who has been key to the progress and growth of SVI over the last ten years.
We welcomed new and returning exhibitors. Some demonstrated the latest technological aids to help living with sight loss easier. Others provided information about local and national services. Thanks to: Guide Dogs, Sandwell Council’s Sensory Services, Humanware, Oxsight, Wireless for the Blind, SERCO, West Midlands Combined Authority, Black Country Women’s Aid, Healthwatch Sandwell, Blind Veterans, Sandwell Trading Standards, Sandwell Library Service and Sandwell Citizens Advice.
We’ve had some great feedback and hope to bring you more on this soon.
We’re already looking forward to next year’s forum, which is on 16 November 2020!