District 105BS Walk for Sight 2011.

Lions Clubs
International – District 105BS Walk for Sight

Queens Hotel,
Llandudno, 16th October 2011.

For the second year running the District 105BS Walk for
Sight event was held in Llandudno and hosted by the Queens Hotel. This event,
organised by Lion John Sanders and coordinated in Llandudno by Lion David
Durrington and Lion Martin Smith, took a slightly different format than
previous years.
Normally a guided walk round the hosting town or city is
arranged with a number of those taking part being blindfolded. This year the
walk took to the busy shopping area of Llandudno’s Mostyn Street and Parc Llandudno. The
idea was to understand what the blind customer’s encounter in the day-to-day
routine of shopping.
Groups of between 4&5 volunteers
where issued with a small number of shops to visit. Each shop taking part had
been previously asked if they would like to take part and 70 had agreed.
In the group at least one member was blindfolded and was guided
by a second. The other members of the group looked out for any safety issues
and took notes on the experience in visiting the various stores.
The walk was started by Councillor Greg Robbins the Mayor of
Llandudno, accompanied by the Mayoress, Mrs Debbie Robbins and the Town’s Miss
Alice, Nicol Thompson. Councillor Robbins took the time to accompany members of
the Llandudno Lions as they visited a number of stores. On the way towards
their first stop I asked the Mayor what he thought about the event.

“Obviously access to the shops in Llandudno is very
important. Lots of people do have various issues whether it be physical motor
ability issues, hearing issues or as today is being highlighted visual
impairment issues. Events like this are very good for making shops realise that
this is something they have to consider. However it is ensuring you are
physically doing it practically and willing with the shops creating a good
working partnership which hopefully improves the experience of the visitors to
the town.” I asked the Mayor if he was aware the sight related activities
carried out by the Lions, he said not before this event. The Mayor was aware of
the various works the Lions did but “not aware of their particular interest in
this field”

Twelve Clubs from the District were represented – special
thanks to Flint Lions who attended en masse!
The total turnout was 42, disappointing after last year’s 68. Note that
seven Clubs from Zone 8 took the trip to the seaside!  Thanks to DO David Durrington for all his
hard work and the excellent buffet at the Queens Hotel. Also thanks to DO
Martin Smith in his role as official photographer and reporter.  Thanks to DG Beryl Roberts for attending the
event (along with the Lion!!).  A raffle,
with donated prizes, was held and, together with a donation, £65 was raised
which will be passed on to Lions Sightsavers.
John Sanders – Health Team Chair.

Report by Lion Martin Smith of the Lions Club of Llandudno.

Vale Royal Lions Club shows the way on World Sight Day.



This  was published in the Northwich Guardian.What a great article.

KNIGHTS of the blind continued their crusade against darkness  when they organised a blindfold challenge in Northwich town centre.

Northwich Guardian chief reporter Gina Bebbington and Northwich town mayor Clr Alison Gerrard spent two hours without sight in an event organised by Vale Royal Lions.

They were joined by Winnington pensioner Blodwen Phillips, who is registered blind, and her guide dog Ufton.

The event was to raise awareness and funds for World Sight Day  and the goal of Lions clubs to help prevent blindness, restore eyesight and improve eye care for millions of  people worldwide.

This goal was set in 1925 when Helen Keller, an American deaf and blind lady who championed these afflictions throughout her life, challenged the Lions to become ‘knights of the blind in a crusade  against darkness’.

PARDON the pun but two hours without sight was a real eye opener for myself and Clr Alison Gerrard on Friday.

You don’t realise just how much your world revolves around being able to see – and just how much you take that for granted – until it is taken away from you.

But the instant we put those blindfolds on our world changed to one of darkness and uncertainty and Clr Gerrard and I, possibly two of the chattiest women in Northwich, fell oddly silent.

We met up with VDG Rob Brown, Sam Sloan and Peter Allsop, from Vale Royal Lions, and Blodwen and Ufton in the Bull Ring, where we were given our blindfolds and led up High Street and into our  challenge.

This involved a visit to Barclays Bank, where greeters helped us around the branch, tea and a scone at Cafe Terrazzo (very difficult not to get your fingers in the jam), a walk around the town  centre and a visit to Northwich Library, where staff explained the resources they have for blind and partially sighted people, including large print and talking books, special computer software and  ClearVision braille books for children.

Members of the Vale Royal Talking Newspaper team also talked us through their work to make sure blind and partially sighted people don’t miss out on their local news.

I was surprised by the impact that two hours without sight had on me.

I was expecting to feel unsteady on my feet and disorientated but my utter reliance on Sam, my guide, was quite frightening.

He didn’t only tell me which direction to walk in, he told me what the floor surface was like, how many steps I had to navigate and whether we were on a slope, as well as opening doors for me and  guiding me through them.

I asked Blodwen how on earth she coped with Ufton – surely a guide dog wouldn’t be able to do a lot of those things.

But Blodwen, 80, said she Ufton was so well trained that she only had to tell him she wanted to go to the bank and he would lead her straight there and take her up the ramp into branch rather than  up the steps.

But what did surprise me was that I found it unexpectedly difficult to cope with social issues.

Conversations were very difficult as you miss out on the inferences of body language, you don’t know who’s talking to you as you cannot see who they’re looking at and sometimes you don’t know if  there’s anyone there to talk to!

I also felt that I was being talked down to and patronised because I couldn’t see – I’m not sure if this was the case or if it was a symptom of the insecurity and loss of confidence I felt without  my sight.

In fact, ‘losing my confidence’ sums up the whole experience for me – I certainly felt inferior, hesitant and foolish and felt I was missing out on so much.

The relief Clr Gerrard and I shared was unbelievable when, at the end of the two hours, we were told we could take the blindfold off and light flooded back into our lives.

But then I looked at Blodwen and realised that for her, and for millions of people like her, there was no taking off the blindfold.

The Work of Vale Royal Lions Vale Royal Lions have donated thousands of pounds to sight-related local concerns during their 36 years of serving the community, and about 30 years ago they funded and  initiated the first Vale Royal Talking Newspaper, which still provides a valuable service today.

They also contribute to special projects, most recently to the Lions Eye Bus Uganda venture.

Funded by Lions clubs within the north west and north Wales area and by private sponsors, Lions purchased a bus and converted it into a mobile eye operating theatre.

It has been shipped to Uganda and is now about to commence service in rural areas where there are limited health services and the vision of thousands of people are threatened by preventable  afflictions.

Anyone interested in being a Lion and making a difference to the local community, raising funds for local charities and enjoying a lively social life with new friends should ring Charles on 08458  338496.

Photo shows VDGRob Brown, Town Mayor Clr Alison Gerrard, Guardian chief reporter Gina Bebbington, Sam Sloan, from Vale Royal Lions, Blodwen Phillips, Ufton the guide dog and Peter Allsop, from Vale Royal Lions.