East Sussex Sight Loss Council: Meet the members

Meet the Staff

Dave Smith

Dave Smith

My name is Dave Smith and I’m the Engagement Manager for the South East. I’m registered blind and have little useful vision nowadays (light perception on a good day). I was diagnosed with having Retinitis Pigmentosa and Retinal Telangiectasia in 1991 but after 2 Cataract operations and a significant drop in my vision, I was registered blind in 1997.

I have worked in the disability sector for nearly 25 years, working for RNIB for almost 15 years and then smaller Surrey based disability charities for the past 10 years. I have held many different job roles during this time and, as a result, have a good understanding and knowledge of the sector with particular expertise in IT/Access Technology, Employment and Vision Impairment Awareness.

Image of Lauren Eade, East Sussex SLC member. Lauren is sitting in a garden in the sun. She has long, brown, hair and is wearing sunglasses.

Lauren Eade

Lauren is the Sight Loss Council Coordinator for South East England.

After experiencing sight problems for many years, she was eventually diagnosed with Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) in 2020 and registered
as partially sighted. CVI is the commonest cause of childhood vision impairment in England, but many barriers exist to getting a diagnosis and support.

Lauren’s experiences have made her passionate about improving access for blind and partially sighted people across all areas of life. She was previously a member of East Sussex Sight Loss Council and joined Thomas Pocklington Trust in 2024.

In her spare time, Lauren enjoys reading, spending time with friends and family, and walking in the local countryside.

Meet the Council Members

Iris Keppler

Iris Keppler

Hi I am Iris. Having spent nearly 30 years on this planet as a fully sighted person, I lost my sight in the late 1990s as a side effect of my diabetes. After studying at university, most of my working life was spent in the banking/ finance and accounting sector where I worked in customer facing roles.

Since being made redundant a few years ago, I have volunteered my time, engaging with several disability and access groups and forums where I proactively advocated for the blind and partially sighted (BPS) community. Being part of the East Sussex Sight Loss Council (I hope) will further enable me to make the lives of other BPS people easier by helping to hopefully eliminate many of the extra obstacles and barriers we face as blind and partially sighted people.

Rich Wheeler

Rich Wheeler

My Name is Rich Wheeler and I’m a volunteer on the East Sussex Sight Loss Council.

I’m currently working at Brighton and Hove City Council as a Community Engagement Officer. With a strong passion for Equality Diversity & Inclusion, I’m the chair of the internal Disabled Workers & Carers Network at BHCC.

I acquired my sight loss in 2011 and previously was fully sighted. In the course of a few months I became legally blind through the onset of Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy – LHON, which is a rare genetic condition that has left me with some limited peripheral vision. Shortly after becoming blind I became a screen reader user and completed my degree in Business Management at Winchester University. I enjoy pushing myself to try out a variety of activities such as Argentinian tango, yoga, goalball, half marathons, assault courses and tai chi to name a few.

Paul Goddard, smiling at the camera, wearing sunglasses and a hat

Paul Goddard

I was born partially sighted and later registered blind in 2008. Despite having sight loss, I have not let this stand in the way of anything that I have wanted to achieve, which includes being an advocate and giving a voice to VI people.

After leaving school, I have had a varied career. A highlight was becoming Head of Wardrobe and Creative Services for CITV at ITV and The Disney Channel.

Since then, I became the first VI magistrate on the Sussex bench, and the co-founding member of Signet, the working age social group for VI people at Eastbourne Blind Society.

Originally from Birmingham, I moved to East Sussex in 2007 and I have become very active in the local community, especially, helping to shape change for VI members.

I feel very honoured to be able to be part of the East Sussex Sight Loss Council and to having fun whilst helping to make positive change.

Linn davies, sitting at a table, facing the camera and smiling.

Linn Davies

Linn is a singer, journalist and transformational life coach. After living for a short while in Norway, Linn moved back to the UK in 2018 and settled in Brighton. Linn is passionate about disabled people having equal access to education and employment, especially within the creative industries where disabled people are very much under represented. She is excited to be part of the East Sussex Sight Loss Council and is looking forward to help shaping the local community into being the inclusive and enabling space she knows it has the potential to become.

When she’s not working or volunteering, Linn can be found recording new songs in her home studio, performing with her band The three blind buskers on the streets of Brighton and Hove, doing some kind of creative writing, or enjoying a good psychological thriller on Netflix or audible with a cup of tea. African music is Linn’s passion and her music can be found on all streaming platforms under the stage name Lioness Oyinbo.

Image shows Zehra, East Sussex SLC member, smiling at the camera. Her hair is pulled back in a ponytail, she is wearing a white jumper, and sunglasses.

Zehra Yunel

Zehra was born with Retinopathy of Prematurity, which is an eye condition that can happen in premature babies. She is registered blind.

She is currently studying law and sociology at a mainstream 6th form college. When she completes her A levels, Zehra hopes to go to university and study law. Her ambitions for the future are to become a barrister and advocate for human/disability rights and to eventually become a judge.

Zehra is also a member of Student Voices, a volunteer led student support group at Thomas Pocklington Trust. Zehra has joined East Sussex Sight Loss Council because she wants to be an advocate for VI people and help them to have equal access to all areas of life.

Image of East Sussex SLC member, Elaine Dampier. She is standing against a white wall, has long dark hair, and is wearing a black and white scarf.

Elaine Dampier

Elaine was registered as sight impaired in 2017 due to Vitelliform macular dystrophy, macular drusen, and Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH). She lives in Hastings, East Sussex, after relocating from London in 2021. Elaine lives with her partner and enjoys camping, travel, and listening to audio books.

Elaine is now semi-retired after a long career in early years and further education. Elaine is still involved in remote marking and is a Director of a childcare nursery based in London.

Elaine says, “I am pleased to join East Sussex Sight Loss Council and welcome the chance to help make a difference. I want to contribute to breaking down barriers for members of my community who may be experiencing sight loss. It is also a good opportunity to meet people with similar experiences.”

Headshot of Ola, East Sussex SLC member. Ola is standing in front of a window, wearing a black jacket. She is smiling at the camera.

Olajumoke Adeleke

Olajumoke, known as Ola or Jummy by friends and family, was registered blind in 2001. This was soon after she completed her secondary education in Nigeria.

Despite the hurdles, Ola was determined to forge ahead with her education. She went on to study a bachelor’s degree at one of the most prestigious universities in Nigeria. Ola then embarked on a career in journalism, before moving to the UK. Here she studied for her Master in Media Practice for Development and Social Change at the University of Sussex.
Ola is an advocate of the United Nations (UN) Leave No One Behind (LNOB) principle. This promises an inclusive world for everyone, including blind and partially sighted people, by 2030.

Ola said: “Everyone deserves a decent quality of life. I believe joining East Sussex Sight Loss Council will give me more opportunities to reduce and eliminate the inequalities that hinder the full participation of BPS people in our community.”

Alioson Evans, East Sussex SLC member. Alison is wearing a pale pink jumper, and smiling at the camera.

Alison Evans

Alison is totally blind, having lost her sight at 13 due to corneal problems and glaucoma.

Alison has been a guide dog owner since 1987.  Every Saturday morning Alison can be found at her local Parkrun enjoying a 5K run.  Alison also enjoys the theatre and socialising with friends.

Alison has worked for Blatchington Court Trust since 1995 and is now the Executive Director.  Blatchington Court Trust is a Sussex based charity supporting the educational, emotional, and social needs of vision impaired children and young people under the age of 30 living throughout Sussex.

Alison said: “I wanted to join East Sussex Sight Loss Council as I believe that campaigning for change can be more successful when it’s done as part of a group rather than individually.”

Headshot of Paul Hatfield, East Sussex SLC member. He is facing the camera and is stood against a white background.

Paul Hatfield

Paul lives in Brighton and has been totally blind, due to retinal detachment, since 1976.

Paul loves the theatre, music, concerts and gigs, eating out and spending time with friends.

Paul is now retired, but prior to this studied mathematics at Coventry Polytechnic, and trained as a computer programmer for Barclays Bank after graduating. Paul worked in IT for most of his working career, mainly working for American Express in Brighton. In 1993 Paul changed direction and qualified as a teacher. He spent four years teaching maths in a secondary school before returning to IT.

Paul says “I believe becoming a Sight Loss Council member will provide opportunities to use my life experiences to help other BPS people in a mutually beneficial way.”

Become a Sight Loss Council Member 

We’re always looking for new members to join our council. If you’re blind or partially sighted, live anywhere in East Sussex and are passionate about improving services for blind and partially sighted people, then we want to hear from you. 

Join us

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