West Sussex charity 4Sight Vision Support receives Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

West Sussex charity 4Sight Vision Support has been presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 12:40 pm
Updated Monday, 8th November 2021, 1:00 pm

Staff and volunteers were invited to the award ceremony at the Shoreham Centre, where the charity runs a vision support centre.

Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper, presented the award to volunteers Jean Hall, Margaret Russell and Gill Calderhead, this morning, explaining it is the equivalent of the MBE for volunteer organisations.

Mrs Pyper said: “With the combination of your centenary and all the work which I know you have done through Covid, it is really so timely that you are receiving this award.

The Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper, with 4Sight Vision Support chief executive Kirstie Thomas, chairman of trustees Dr Norman Boyland and volunteers Jean Hall, Margaret Russell and Gill Calderhead

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“When somebody is losing their sight, there are so many conflicts of emotion. I have listened to some I know who cannot see. There is the isolation, the loneliness, the fear.

“Thank you to all of you during Covid for redoubling your efforts. I know you learned to work in different ways but right through you have kept in touch with people who needed you more than they ever needed you before.”

Dr Norman Boyland, chairman of trustees, said the charity had spent the past couple of week celebrating its centenary, having been formed 100 years ago, in October 1921.

The Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper, presents the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to volunteers Jean Hall, Margaret Russell and Gill Calderhead

He said: “You can see the excitement we have had receiving this award. The motivation it provides is absolutely palpable. It is for the volunteers, the staff and those with sight loss across West Sussex.

“In the past 100 years, the charity has been supporting sight-imparied people across the county continuously, including through the Second World War and in the past couple of years through the pandemic.

“The past couple of years have been tough. We have all experienced isolation, we have all come to understand the debilitating effects of loss of social contact. These are things that people with sight loss are likely to suffer not just through the pandemic but day-to-day throughout their lives.

“It is fantastic that we have wonderful staff and volunteers who have managed to stay in touch with our members and that they know 4Sight is there for them all the time and that if they need help, all they need to do is give us a call.”

Dr Boyland said there are 30,000 people with sight loss in West Sussex and emphasised the value of the volunteers, with a team of around 250 giving 24,000 hours of support each year, in all different roles.

The charity, which is based in Bognor Regis, aims to allow people with sight loss to live their lives to the fullest extent and operates across West Sussex.