Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council: Meet the Members

Meet the Staff

Headshoto f Samantha Leftwich, Engagement Manager for Bedfordshire SLC. She is sitting outside, looking at he camera, smiling. She has long dark hair and is wearing a black top.

Samantha Leftwich

Sam studied a BA Hons in Special Education at university, before working in primary schools. In this role she supported children with special educational and learning needs.

She has volunteered in numerous roles within the sight loss sector, working with BASIS, Guide Dogs UK, and participating in several focus groups on behalf on RNIB.

Sam loves music, art, theatre, and is fascinated by the power and influence of music on emotional and physical needs.Sam was a member of Essex SLC, before starting her new venture as Engagement Manager for East England.

She is looking forward to building new working relationships with service providers and cannot wait to meet and welcome new volunteers to the Sight Loss Councils.

Whilst she can’t promise not to make members sing, she does promise to empower and support them, advocating for positive change in the area.

Meet the Members

Headshot of Phil Rutter, Bedfordshire SLC member. His head is slightly tipped back and he is smiling.

Phil Rutter

Phil has been blind since 1972 due to detached retinas. He lives in Luton, Bedfordshire and enjoys watching live music, karaoke, all sports, going to the gym, and walking.

Phil gained a degree in human resource management and spent his career as a HR manager at an international automotive supply company. He is a guide dog owner and was chairman of the local GDP branch for 25 years. He is currently working with his sixth guide dog.

Phil continues to be a Guide Dog ambassador, and is also a volunteer for the local child, bereavement, and emotional well-being service. He also set up, and helps run, the local vision impaired peoples social club.

Phil says: “I became a Sight Loss Council volunteer so I can do whatever I can to help better the lives of blind and partially sighted people. As an SLC member, I can be actively involved in projects which can ensure that these aims are achieved.”

Headshot of Paul Day, Bedfordshire SLC member. He is wearing a blue jumper and smiling at the camera.

Paul Day

Paul has had rod cone dystrophy since birth. He was registered as partially sighted at a young age, and severely sight impaired in his early 20s. Paul lives in East Bedfordshire and enjoys discovering new music.

Paul is an enthusiastic advocate for rail travel, including heritage railways. He has been involved with his local railway society in North Herts for many years and currently holds the position of Honorary President.

Paul was motivated to join Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council to work with councils and organisations. He wants to help improve their services for blind and partially sighted people. By sharing his own experience of sight loss, he wants to influence change.

Paul took early retirement from his ‘Advice Worker’ role at RNIB in June 2022. He previously worked in various public sector roles, including IT Procurement.

Headshot of Ray Leighton Bedfordshire SLC member. Ray is standing against a cream brick wall, wearing a checked shirt and glasses. He is smiling at the camera.

Ray Leighton

Ray lives in Bedfordshire and is registered partially sighted, due to age related Macular Degeneration. Ray feels that his diagnosis has given him a different outlook on life.

Ray is now retired but previously worked as a successful sales courier and a chauffeur. In his spare time, he enjoys walking and travelling.

Ray says “I am looking forward to joining Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council as it is important to me to protect and make others aware of blind and partially sighted people in my community.”

Stefan Crocker

Stefan joined Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council in 2021. He has retinal dystrophy and night blindness. This is caused by a rare genetic condition called Bardet Biedl Syndrome.

Stefan feels his good communication skills, positivity, and problem-solving skills help him maximise life.

Stefan has a wide range of interests which include current affairs, comedy sport and live music. Travelling is also a passion of Stefan’s, which he says has provided him with first-hand experience of just how accessible buses, trains and taxis are.

Stefan said: “I am dedicated to improving the lives of sight impaired people. I want to do this by sharing my lived experience of both excellent and poor service, highlighting how organisations can improve their services for blind and partially sighted people.”

Tony Fontenelle

Tony began to lose his sight a few years ago due to retinal dystrophy and diabetic retinopathy.

Tony has had a varied career. Starting as a mechanical engineer, he went on to become a financial advisor for HMC Finance Solutions. He then got a degree in nursing and worked as a mental health nurse in the NHS. Tony would now like to pursue a course in counselling and improve his ability to use Excel.

Tony likes to stay active and go to the gym in his spare time. He is also interested in farm vehicles and plants.

Tony was encouraged to sign up as a SLC member because of his excellent communication skills.  He is eager to help visually impaired and BAME communities and wants to get involved in campaigns related to accessible health and education.

Eileen Whitmore

Coming soon!

Ehtessam Hussain

Coming soon!

Marion Burchell

Coming soon!

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