Derbyshire Sight Loss Council: Meet the members

Meet the Staff

Head shot of Matt Harrison, Engagement Manager for East Midlands. Matt is standing against a white wall and smiling at the camera. He is wearing a black shirt and a blazer.

Matt Harrison

Matt is the Engagement Manager for the East Midlands and joined Sight Loss Councils in March 2023. Matt previously worked in the sector with My Sight Nottinghamshire, and The Beacon Centre.

Matt was diagnosed with Stargardt disease in 2005. He is now registered as severely-sight impaired.

Matt is a keen musician and photographer, with trees and landscapes his favourite subjects – mainly because they don’t move! He also enjoys watching football and a nice, spicy, curry.

Originally from Lancashire, Matt moved to Nottinghamshire in 1996, swapping a lecturing job in Moscow for a teaching role in Mansfield. He has never left the county since.

Matt is keen to ensure that blind and partially sighted people have the same opportunity to access services and the local community as their sighted peers. He is extremely excited to be responsible for establishing Sight Loss Councils throughout the region.

Meet the Members

Headshot of Dannie Gage, Derbyshire SLC member. She is stood outside a house, smiling at the camera.

Dannie Gage

Dannie has been deaf blind since her late teens and has Usher Syndrome type 2. She lives in Derby with her husband and her pet dog Hattie. Dannie loves dog walking, board games and reading books.

Dannie used to be a paediatric nurse but has since co-founded a local peer support group for blind and partially sighted people in and around Derby. She also volunteers for RNIB, and runs the local technology hub.

Dannie says: “I am thoroughly excited to join Derbyshire Sight Loss Council. I am looking forward to making an active change in Derby and across Derbyshire to improve accessibility and quality of life for people with sight loss.”

Headshot of Derbyshire SLC member, Bill. He is standing in a garden with trees behind him. He is wearing a checked shirt and smiling at tha camera.

Bill Best

Bill was registered as severely sight impaired in 2009 due to Geographic Atrophy. He lives in North Derbyshire with his wife, whilst his children and grandchildren live in New Zealand. He enjoys tandem bike riding, organising cask beer tours, current affairs, and listening to audio books.

Bill is retired, following a career in social housing management and regeneration within both public and private sectors. In 2024 he completed a six year tenure as a Trustee of the Macular Society.

Bill says: “Since stepping down from the Macular Society, I have been looking for an opportunity to effectively use my lived experience of sight loss to help improve the quality of life for visually impaired people like me. Being part of Derbyshire Sight Loss Council offers that opportunity”

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