Insight - The Berkshire County Blind Society by pengxuebo


Berkshire County Blind Society
Newsletter : September 2011

Notes from the back room

By the time you read this, we will be
saying goodbye to Summer and heading into
what I hope will be a pleasant autumn.
The summer has been unsettled in more
than weather terms, with widespread
economic bad news alongside uncertainty
over NHS reforms and the Welfare Reform
In July The Dilnot Commission published
its recommendations on reforming the
funding of social care and, whilst they
recommended that universal disability
benefits for people of all ages should
continue in their current form, many
funding issues have still to be resolved
before publication of the White Paper
next spring. During the autumn BCBS will
participate on your behalf in the
consultation exercise.
Another interesting development has been
the proposal for a revised code for
braille, known as Unified English Braille
(UEB). There are currently a number of
different coding systems for braille
which create problems for anyone wishing
to read braille publications from other
parts of the English-speaking world. A
report is being compiled for discussion
later this autumn and if any of you have
an interest in this topic, please let me
know and I‘ll keep you updated.
On a lighter note, we are looking forward
to seeing as many of you as possible at
the Berkshire Vision Day Exhibition on
October 12th at the Hilton, Reading.
Members who attended last year‘s event
know how successful this new format was,
and this year we have even more
exhibitors (listed on page 5). Make sure
you don‘t miss it.
I have some good news on the funding
side, as the Society has benefitted from
legacies totalling over £35,000 in the
course of the last twelve months. There
is a list on page 9 of those who have
chosen to support us in this very special
way and I cannot thank them and their
families enough for their great kindness.
We have also continued to benefit from
individual and group fundraising efforts,
and details of some of our star
fundraisers are contained in later pages.
You all know how reliant we are on public
and charitable donations to keep the
Society going, and again I want to
express my thanks to all those who give
so freely of their time and effort to
raise money on our behalf. We really
could not function without you.
The same is true for our army of
volunteers and I will be giving special
recognition to them at our AGM on 26th
Before signing off I wanted to tell you
that from 14 to 28 October I will be away
with another humanitarian aid convoy in
Kosovo. This time I am taking specific
supplies for the Blind School there,
which is struggling to provide
educational and other support services
for blind people and their families.
I hope to see you at the AGM and/or on
Berkshire Vision Day.      Tom
The Chairman and Trustees of
Berkshire County Blind Society request
the pleasure of your company at the
Annual General Meeting of the Society
Charvil Village Hall, Park Lane, Charvil,
RG10 9TR
2.00 pm on Monday 26th September 2011
RSVP by 12th September 2011
Mrs Vanessa Barrow
Telephone : 0118 9872803     e-mail :
Items for discussion should be submitted
to the office at least 2 weeks prior to
the meeting.

Hello from Alison Jones, a new member of
BCBS staff
I joined BCBS in June as the full time
Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (or ECLO) in
the Prince Charles Eye Unit at the King
Edward VII hospital in Windsor. I have
been given my own Patient Liaison room,
so patients can talk to me in private
about any difficulties they may be having
related to their vision. Additionally, I
can provide information about services
outside the hospital that may be
available to them. Some people just want
to find out what happens next.
If a patient is feeling overwhelmed or
has general queries, they can discuss
this with me. Some people want to let off
steam, be listened to or perhaps need
advice on services and equipment. No two
days bring the same queries!
If you would like to pop in and meet me
when you are attending appointments at
the Eye Unit, you are very welcome.

I am happy to report that a number of
‗Health & Wellbeing‘ activities are
shaping up for people who live or work in
West Berkshire.
A partnership has been established with
Greenacres Leisure, Health and Fitness
Club in Newbury for people to experience
swimming, steam room and sauna, plus
cycle ‗spinning‘ activities. If you would
like to join in, you will need a multi-
session card for 10 free trials.
Accompanying carers will have free
admission too. Please get in touch with
me if you would like a card. There is no
time limit to this offer, but I would
encourage everyone to attend regularly to
maximise the benefits.
Yoga training for teachers to instruct
people with visual impairments starts in
Thatcham in September. Classes for VIPs
will hopefully begin in October.
Pamper Sessions are also being planned
for the Autumn. These will include
aromatherapy, Indian head massage and
facials. I am now working on
opportunities for Hydrotherapy.
In August ‗taster sessions‘ were on offer
at the Dolphin Adventure Centre in
Pangbourne for people to experience bell-
boating, single cycling and rock
climbing. This fantastic facility
afforded a beautiful setting for a picnic
which was enjoyed by everyone. More
activities will be planned for young and
‗young at heart‘ people who are inspired
by the taster. The funding from Greenham
Common Trust will help us to build on
these opportunities.
Membership of West Berkshire Independent
Living Network (ILN) is open to you and
offers you the chance to raise issues
that affect your everyday life. They meet
quarterly. For further information please
contact Sharon on 01635 760425 or visit

Resources Exhibition
Berkshire Vision Day Exhibition
Wednesday 12th October 10.00am - 3.00pm
The Windsor Suite, Hilton Hotel, Drake
Way, Reading, RG2 0GQ

Berkshire Diabetic     Professional Vision
Screening              Services
Bradbury Hotel         Reading Association for
                       the Blind
British Wireless for   RNIB
the Blind
Calibre              Sight and Sound
Dolphin Computers    SW Retail
Enhanced Vision      TaxHelp for Older
Force 10             The Accessible Friends
Guide Dogs for the   Talking Newspaper
Blind                Federation
Humanware            Thames Valley Police
Macular Disease      Thrive
Optalis VIT          Videospec
Optelec              Visionaid
Optima Low Vision    Visualeyes
Pamtrad              Vocaleyes
The new Hilton Hotel is easily accessed
from junction 11 of the M4 and from
Reading on the A33. There is plenty of
free parking.
BCBS will organise as many minibuses as
possible but you need to book early by
calling Carole on 0118 987 2803.
Tea and coffee will be available for a
small charge and there is of course a
restaurant in the hotel.

One of my assorted duties here in the
office is to arrange transport for clubs
and other activities organised by BCBS
staff and supporters.
I must say straight away that a
complicated job is made considerably
easier by having 2 brilliant regular
drivers plus some highly reliable
standbys who, even when I‘m on leave,
work together so the minibuses normally
get to the correct destination, on time
and with the right passengers. I really
notice the difference if we have to use
other community or commercial transport.
The Club organisers also play a vital
part by giving me the lists of people to
be picked up for meetings or outings.
This month and next we have 2 big events
for which we‘re providing as much
transport as we can muster.

The first is our AGM on 26th September
and the other is the Berkshire Vision Day
exhibition on October 12th
I already have minibus bookings from some
keen people, but if you really need
assistance with transport to either
event, we might still be able to help if
you ring the office soon. A return
minibus trip is still only £7.
Please remember though that only people
who have paid their annual subscription
(and their carers) can be carried on our
The tapes we use for the audio version of
Insight are rapidly becoming difficult to
source. We are therefore asking our tape
listeners to change to either CD or USB
format during the coming months so that
we can phase out tapes altogether.
Most people now have access to a CD
player, so that might be your best
option, but members who have changed to
USB say it‘s very simple. In fact most
Talking Newspapers and Calibre audio-
books are now on USB. For people who‘ve
not used USB sticks before, they can be
played with ease on a cheap player (about
£25) and in some areas the Talking
Newspaper teams are giving them to
clients free of charge. If you‘d like a
demonstration, please call the office and
one of our visitors can come out to you.

The Royal Mail‘s ‗Articles for the Blind‘
is an excellent service, allowing for
many postal items from and to visually
impaired people to go free of charge. It
does however have strict rules attached.
BCBS has fallen foul of these in recent
months as a few sorters have applied some
of the less helpful rules with increasing
vigour. One of the rules insists that
envelopes are not stuck down and another
that the words ‗price‘, ‘charge‘ and
‗cost‘ never appear, because that would
constitute ‗advertising‘.
If you find a letter from us has been
surcharged, do give us a ring so we can
check we‘re still abiding by the rules.

A Happy New Year to you all!!!
We have just ordered the 2012 diaries and
calendars from RNIB.
As soon as they arrive our visitors will
be taking them out
to clubs and when they visit you at home.
This will save me time but I will also
post them if necessary.
These are the styles we are offering this
Pocket diary - £4.50
A3 wall calendar - £3.75
Fold-up calendar - £3.75
Desk diary (22x19cm) - £6.50



Two years ago, if you had told Atia
Aslam, who has been registered blind from
birth, that she would be training with
the England Blind Women‘s Cricket Team
and might even be picked to go to Nepal,
she would have told you to stop talking
rubbish! But that‘s exactly what she‘s
doing, with the support of Berkshire
County Blind Society and Blind Cricket
England and Wales. Congratulations Atia!


―Sound Tennis‖ allows people who are
completely blind or with minimal sight to
play tennis by using a ball which makes a
noise when bounced. It is played by the
normal rules of tennis but players use a
short tennis or junior racquet. A
partially sighted player is allowed two
bounces before hitting the ball, while
anyone registered blind can have up to
three bounces.
BCBS now has funding to run a series of
lessons for both adults and children. The
course will run for approximately six
weeks on a weekday evening (TBA) in the
Autumn. The first hour will be for
children between the ages of 4 and 18.
This will be followed by a class for
adults. Places will be limited to 8
members per class.
To help us make the best use of the grant
please call us soon if you are at all

There are still a few places on the judo
for children course. If you would like to
join in, please get in touch.

Following the taster day, a Trigolf
course is being planned for the Spring.
More information will follow.


Interested in playing golf?
―Even if you have never played before or
given it up because of loss of sight you
can still play. Enjoy playing with fully
sighted people either for a social game
or in competition. You will use the same
equipment and play to the same rules as
everyone else.― Derrick Sheridan - BCBS
member and Blind Golf International
The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Golf
Partnership will be holding a Blind Golf
taster session for our adult members
later this year at Mill Ride Golf Club in
Crowthorne. The date has still to be
arranged at the time of going to print.
Please let us know if you would like to
be put on the mailing list. Places are
limited and will be allocated on a first
come first served basis so please don't

Not Christmas Already? Oh yes it is!
As the next Insight will not be with you
until December, I am giving details of
the Christmas trips, which all seems very
surreal as I am composing this article on
a very hot day in August.
In spite of the aircraft noise overhead,
we had a lovely sunny day for the visit
to Syon Park, a beautiful, ancient
stately home, built in about 1200, before
it became part of the flight path of the
incoming jets to nearby Heathrow airport.
Wokingham Theatre‘s performance of Ladies
Day was great entertainment in an
intimate, modern community theatre with a
very enthusiastic cast and audience to
support them.

Our guide round Chelsea Hospital, an ex-
RSM, gave a wonderful insight into the
work of the hospital that supports ex-
service personnel who wish to spend their
retirement at the Chelsea Hospital.
In July we had two river trips, one
starting from Windsor and one from
Maidenhead. The Windsor cruise, blessed
with sunshine, was very successful, with
nearly 40 passengers, including 11 from
West Berkshire. They were especially
welcome as some had to come very long
distances to join the trip. We do hope to
see them again on future outings.
The Maidenhead cruise turned into a
‘Magical Mystery Tour‘ as the captain
changed the route at the last moment for
one he thought more interesting. He might
well have been right because it was a
superb trip and we did see the famous
Swan Upping in progress at Bray.
So now we have the Christmas activities.
There is quite a choice of outings on the
coupon for both sides of the county
supporting local venues, plus a few which
could accommodate members from any area.
Many of you have asked if we could go to
the Old Tyme Musical in the New Forest
which in previous years has been arranged
as a club visit. I have included it to
see if other members would support it,
but be warned it will be quite an
expensive excursion. If you wish to come
along please indicate if you want to do
the Christmas party or just the cream
tea; there is a separate line for each.

Aladdin at The Hexagon in Reading
Sleeping Beauty at Windsor
Robin Hood at The Corn Exchange at
Cinderella at Camberley Theatre
Carols at Royal Holloway College,
Carols with Pangbourne Choral
Carols with Bracknell Choral Society
Windsor and Eton Choral Society
performing Elijah
Christmas shopping in Reading
Christmas shopping in Basingstoke
Old Tyme Musical with cream tea
Old Tyme Musical with Christmas
Party & meal

Children and Young People
Keeping children entertained during the
long summer holidays can be quite a
challenge for parents, and especially if
you have a child who has a disability.
With this in mind, the Children‘s
Department organised an exciting range of
activities for our members this summer,
so there was no excuse for anyone to be
 First of all we went on a coach outing
to Brighton in early August. This
included a visit to the fantastic Sealife
Centre, followed by some free time to
count the 614 billion pebbles on
Brighton‘s beach!
 The following week we were treated to
two hours of free funfair rides at
Frimley Park in Surrey, donated to us by
the Children With Special Needs
Foundation, who also gave each child a
huge goodie bag!
At the end of August we held our Summer
Picnic Party at the fabulous Camp Mohawk
complex in Wargrave. As well as their
beach-style swimming pool, indoor soft
play room, sensory room, art room,
sensory garden, outdoor play area,
adventure park and wildlife area, we
hired Impeyan Animal Encounters. They
brought along many fascinating animals
and reptiles for the children to touch,
hold and learn about. And if that wasn‘t
enough, Linda and her Get Active Sports
Club coaches brought along a wide
selection of special VI sporting
equipment for the children to try out.
As you can imagine, everyone had a
wonderful afternoon.
During the summer we also distributed 60
free tickets for Legoland Windsor
donated to us by Merlin‘s Magic Wand.
All of the activities we arranged proved
to be extremely popular and many families
commented on what a wonderful time they
had had with BCBS during the summer
Looking ahead to the rest of the year,
I‘m delighted to inform you that
Bakehouse Limited have once again invited
our young members to take part in a
special cookery session at their kitchens
in Bagshot during October. The children
will work alongside Bakehouse Chefs to
create some tasty treats which they can
take home afterwards.
Then, on Saturday 26th November we will be
holding our Children‘s Christmas Party
which is always a firm favourite.
As usual, we will be organising our
annual tickets to the local Pantomimes in
December. To celebrate the end of the
Christmas season, we have planned a very
special coach outing to see The Snowman
at the Peacock Theatre in London.
Apart from taking a lot of time to
organise, all these activities need
funding to enable us to offer them at
such a huge discount. I‘d really
appreciate it if you would send your
booking forms and any payment by the date
specified on your invitation. I run the
Children‘s Department on my own and only
work part-time, so as you can appreciate,
I really don‘t have time to chase people
up for late payments etc. Please help me
to help you! Thank you!

PS—We have a range of Harry Potter books
on tape cassette, all read by the
marvellous Stephen Fry. If you would
like to borrow any of these, please let
me know.
Quote from a happy parent after the
Brighton trip:-
―As usual, the whole thing was
beautifully organised and everybody had a
really good day.‖
The next few months will be very busy for
BCBS fundraisers. On September 9th we are
holding a Race Night at Pincents Manor
which should be fun. It‘s not too late to
book a place so do come along, it
promises to be a great night! Please
call the office for more details.
On September 17th & 18th BCBS is the
President‘s Charity at the Royal County
of Berkshire Show in Newbury. Volunteers
will be needed for the leaving
collections at several exits - call us if
you can help for a couple of hours.
On October 8th there will be a Country
Dance Evening at the Arborfield Royal
British Legion - tickets are available
from BCBS member Michael Chipper on 01344
On October 9th Peter Mutch and Jeff Lloyd
are running in the London Parks Marathon
in support of BCBS and can be sponsored
Call Linda if you would like to take part
next year.
Last but not least we have the usual
series of street and shop collections for
which we also need helpers.
Please call the office if you can spare a
few hours on any of these dates:-
Sept 16 & 17 - Lower      Oct 7 & 8 -
Earley                    Newbury

Sept 17 & 18 - Newbury    Oct 7 & 8 -
Show                      Maidenhead

Sept 23   - Sunningdale   Nov 4, 5 &    6 -
Sept 30, Oct 1 & 2 -
Hare Hatch

Star fundraisers
Star fundraising group, the Shinfield
Players have recently given us £465 from
various events, raffles and collections
during the 2010-2011 season. Thank you
In partnership with AMANDA PAYNE of FAST,
we held our 4th Annual Quiz Night. The
event raised £900 to share between BCBS
and FAST. Thank you Amanda.
 Hannah Ferguson recently sky-dived her
way to raising over £300 for us. Whether
she‘s mad, brave or both, she‘s a star
fundraiser! Thank you Hannah.

Ivy Miriam Sykes
Winifred Mary Keogh
Rosemary Joyce Simpson
Barbara Joan Ford
Peggy Gardiner

Wokingham Libraries now have capacity for
more readers to receive the Home Library
Service. This is free of charge to WBC
residents who are unable to visit their
nearest library.
It is delivered by a team of volunteers
who are fully checked and trained before
being matched to readers. Books include
some in large print and some on audio–
If you want more information or to apply
for the service, please ring Kate
Mitchell on 0118 974 6263.

If you live in the Maidenhead area and
are unable to read your Maidenhead
Advertiser due to sight impairment, a
weekly audio version of selected articles
is available from the Maidenhead &
District Talking Newspaper Association.
You can also receive a monthly audio
magazine containing a wide range of
interesting articles from other
publications.This service is completely
free of charge .
For further information, call Pat Davey
on 01628 635385 or visit our
I thought I would tell you about the
holiday in May this year at the Bradbury
Hotel, East Preston. It was in fact the
first Society holiday that has not been
run by BCBS staff and volunteers. Though
we had full confidence in the hotel and
its staff, some of the holidaymakers were
a tad apprehensive about going without
the assistance of BCBS.
Well, I am delighted to tell you that the
holiday was a resounding success; so much
so that several of those attending the
holiday have since booked a Christmas
break at the Bradbury under their own
steam! Rather than me talking about it,
do look at a letter from one of our
holidaymakers on the opposite page in
‗Readers Write‘.
Of course, we will keep you in touch with
any further BCBS holiday plans, (keep
reading your Insight magazine) but if you
would like to contact the Bradbury Hotel
yourself regarding breaks, please do so
on 01903 770339. They will be glad to
hear from you I‘m sure!

Readers write
From a ‗happy holidaymaker‘
What a choice! Are all your holidays so
good? I can hardly wait for the next
offer! It was excellent; I can‘t fault it
- relaxing, excellent food, a safe green
walking area and evening entertainment
that finished at a reasonable time.
Optional afternoon trips meant no morning
rush and even the weather was on our
From when Ann picked us up to our return
I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Congratulations and thank you for
arranging a great holiday!

Caversham Bowlers
By Keith Hester
Caversham Blind Bowlers have had a very
busy summer.
In June, at the invitation of Prospect
Park Bowls Club, we played a game of
three Triples. As they are a sighted club
it was a new venture for both teams.
Everyone considered it a great success
and we have agreed to repeat the event
next year. In July we hosted a game with
Wokingham Blind Bowlers. It was a lovely
day and the match was played in the usual
friendly manner. Later in July we
travelled to High Wycombe to play. The
weather was not so kind this time and
during the match we had a couple of
showers. Finally, in August we
entertained the Bowlers from Aylesbury
Blind Bowling club. The pleasure of these
games is not only in competing but to
meet and enjoy the company of other
bowlers. In addition, there are usually
splendid refreshments provided by the
host clubs.
Reassuring news for members in Bracknell,
Reading, Windsor & Maidenhead and

The Wokingham Visual Impairment Team has
now transferred to a new company called
―Optalis‖. This company is what is known
as a Local Authority Trading Company and
will continue to provide many of
Wokingham Borough Council‘s care services
on its behalf. The Wokingham Visual
Impairment Team will continue to work on
behalf of 4 Berkshire Unitary
Authorities, namely Bracknell, Reading,
Windsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham
The team wishes to make clear that the
services you receive will continue to be
delivered as they were before and that
their address, contact details and
staffing remain the same.

5 Erleigh Road, Reading, RG1 5LR

The offices are open as follows:
Monday to Thursday
8.30 am to 4.45 pm
Friday (visitors by appointment only)
8.30 am to 3.30 pm

(Lunch break 12.30 pm – 1.00 pm)
Messages may be left outside office hours
Phone: 0118 987 2803
General e-mail:

OPTALIS   -   Visual Impairment Team

For Reading, Wokingham,
Windsor/Maidenhead & Bracknell
Optalis VIT, 2nd Floor, The Forge,
45-47 Peach Street, Wokingham, RG40 1XJ
Telephone: 0118 974 6896
Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 9.30 am to
1.30 pm

West Berks Visual Impairment Team
West Berkshire Council, Turnhams Green
Pincents Lane, Tilehurst, RG31 4UH
Telephone : 0118 930 2777

Slough Visual Impairment Team
Telephone : 01753 690400

Benefits Hotline           0800 882 200
RNIB Helpline and enquiries   0303 123

Action for Blind People      0207 635 4800
Macular Disease Society    0845 241 2041

National Blind Children's Society 0800 781

Royal Blind Society        01903 85702

TV Licensing               0844 800 5875

Digital switchover helpline   0800 408

Tom Conlin       Chief Executive
Noreen           Finance Officer
Andrea           Senior Visiting
Stannard         Officer
Carole Hurst     Office and Resources
Vanessa Barrow   Assistant to the Chief
Amanda Barford   Families Support Co-
                 18-30 Group Co-
Helena de        Visiting Officer
Santa Ana
Sally Claridge   Visiting Officer
Lucy Joy         Visiting Officer
Linda            Sports Club Co-
Maestranzi       ordinator
                 Development Officer
Zoë Tomes        Outreach Officer
Ros Taylor       Consultant Fundraiser
John Saunders    Fundraiser
John Douglas     Senior Minibus Driver
Ann Meakes       Auxiliary Minibus
Bill Wood        Driver
                 Auxiliary Minibus
Marion           Activities Co-
Saunders         ordinator
Alison Jones     Eye Clinic Liaison

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