Greater Manchester: Meet the members

Meet the staff

headshot of Kelly Barton, Engagement Manager for the north west. Kelly is standing against a white wall and smiling at the camera. Her hair is pulled back into a pony tail. She is wearing a black top with red and white flowers on it.

Kelly Barton

Kelly is the Engagement Manager for the North West of England. She looks after Sight Loss Councils (SLC) in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, and Lancashire.

Kelly has been severely sight impaired since birth and is registered blind. She wants to ensure that SLC members have the opportunity to be the voice of change for other blind and partially sighted people by getting involved in local projects.

Prior to her work in the sight loss sector, Kelly’s early career was in journalism, PR, and marketing.

Outside of work, Kelly loves to spend time with her family. Sport is a big part of Kelly’s life. She is a keen runner and cyclist – often out and about on her bright pink tandem. Recently, Kelly joined the UK’s first blind baseball team.

David Parfett, SLC coordinator for the North West. He is standing against a wall, smiling at the camera.

David Parfett

David is the Sight Loss Council Coordinator for the North West of England.

He was born with Congenital Nystagmus and grew up in the Derbyshire countryside before transitioning to The Royal College for the Blind in Hereford. Following this David moved to Liverpool to study Disability Studies in Education at Liverpool Hope University.

Growing up with sight loss and having lived experience both within mainstream and specialist educational settings, gave David the drive and passion to advocate for equal opportunities and increase societies understanding of sight loss.

After completing his degree, David moved to Liverpool. For those football supporters, his preferred colour is red!

David was previously a member of Merseyside Sight Loss Council, and worked as the Sports and Physical Activities Coordinator at Bradbury Fields – a local sight loss charity.

David is passionate about sports and getting more people involved. His main sports are Blind Baseball, Cricket, and Goalball. David became a Silver Medallist for Great Britain at the Inaugural Blind Baseball World Cup in 2022.

Meet the members

Ada Evarama

Ada Eravama

Ada is a recent performing arts graduate from Liverpool Hope university. She’s a physical theatre performer and director, and will be working on a project with the UK’s largest learning disability theatre company, Mind the Gap as an assistant director.

As a Sight Loss Council member, Ada is interested in advocating for accessibility within the arts. She also has a particular interest in the priority area of transport.

Head and shoulders shot of Anthony Gough

Anthony Gough

Anthony was born in Manchester and is a visually impaired actor and theatre-maker.

In 2015 he graduated with a first-class honours degree in Performing Arts. Since then he has worked at Extant, the UK’s leading theatre company for visually impaired people as well as working as a freelance theatre-maker and facilitator.

In 2018, Anthony set-up Engage2Stage a theatre group based in Bury, Greater Manchester for visually impaired members and their friends.

In his role as a Sight Loss Council volunteer, Anthony is particularly interested in promoting engagement and accessibility across the creative and leisure industries.

Amin Afzal

Amin Afzal

Amin Afzal was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) in 2017.

Amin says “the biggest challenge I had was having to stop driving after 22 years, and to deal with losing my eyesight gradually.  It took me a year to overcome that I be losing my eyesight.

I like to travel to discover and learn about different cultures and history. I also like going for long walks with my family.

I work full time as a network engineer. My employer has been very understanding and accommodating me with a big monitor and ZoomText software.

I joined the sight loss council so that I can bring knowledge and expertise to help others who are living with a visual impairment and to raise awareness about the issues faced by visually impaired people.

Mary smiling

Mary Gilbertson

Mary has been gradually losing her sight since childhood, with a further complication of Macular Disease in 2017.

After having children in her 20s, Mary did some voluntary work and went to college, which kickstarted her career in education.

Mary says that her determination and qualifications eventually got her into university, from which she graduated with a 2:1 degree in 2010.

Mary said: “This enabled my confidence to grow and continue my career working in Early Help Services alongside professionals in schools, colleges, health and social care to meet the variety of needs within families.  I am a Church Youth Worker and involved in various Church events throughout the year.”

She retired in 2016 and is now interested in putting her advocacy experience into action as a Sight Loss Council member.

Mary said: “I have advocated on sight loss, mainly on signage due to small print which I have been unable to read.  I would like to put my professional and voluntary experiences to use in promoting the needs of the visually impaired.”

Image shows Abu-Bakr Ishtiaq from Greater Manchester SLC. He is wearing a black long sleeved top, and wearing glasses.

Abu-Bakr Ishtiaq

Abu is 31 and was born in Manchester, he is registered blind.

Abu studied computing in Birmingham, before moving to Manchester. Here he gained a BSC Honours in Business Computing and IT. Abu loves playing sport which has helped build his confidence in communicating with others and using public transport. Abu also enjoys hosting two radio shows in Manchester.

Since joining Greater Manchester SLC, Abu has participated in many workshops, engaging with professionals. Abu is passionate about creating change, to help make things better for the sight loss community.

Head shot of Gill Currie. she has jaw length, fair hair. She is smiling at the camera.

Gill Currie

Gill has been visually impaired since birth. She was premature, and born with Myopia, Congenital Cataracts, and Nystagmus. Her sight has gradually deteriorated in recent years and she is now registered as Severely Sight Impaired.

Gill currently works for a local Blind Society in Bury, Greater Manchester.

Gill joined our Sight Loss Council to share experiences. She wants to work in partnership with others, to enhance lives of blind and partially sighted people. She wants to raise awareness of the services and opportunities that are available for blind and partially sighted people.
In her spare time, Gill enjoys playing VI tennis, enjoys walking, and live entertainment.

Headshot of Steve Carson, Greater Manchester SLC member. Steve is wearing a black cap and unglasses.

Steve Carson

Steve has a genetic eye condition causing optic nerve atrophy. His sight has worsened over the years, leading him to continually adapt to his changing vision.

Steve has always been into outdoor sports. He is a keen club cyclist, and enjoys running and mountaineering. As his sight has worsened, he has found new ways to do the things he enjoys. Steve is also a keen guitar player alongside having a passion for music.

Steve’s career has been dedicated to the NHS, working in healthcare for over 25yrs. He is currently working as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner for the ‘GP Out of Hours’ service. Steve has continued his education throughout his career, and he now holds an MSc in ‘Advanced Clinical Practice.’

Top of Steve’s list of achievements is his family. His Wife Debbie and their two girls, India and Jasmine, are the backbone to everything he does. “Time with them is worth more than anything else.”

A headshot of Greater Manchester SLC member, Rachael Foley. She has brown, curly, shoulder length hair. Rachel is looking at the camera, smiling.

Rachael Foley

Rachael was diagnosed with Bardet-Biedl Syndrome (BBS) in 2012. BBS effects one in 100,000 babies born in the UK, and is a rare recessive, syndrome. It affects Rachael with sight loss, obesity, epilepsy, and Type 2 Diabetes.

Over the past few years Rachael’s sight has deteriorated and in 2017 she retired.

Since then, Rachael has thrown herself into volunteering. She is a Trustee on the board of BBS UK, and also volunteers with Retina UK. She facilitates Manchester Retina UK’s local peer support group and is also a ‘Befriender’ on the Retina UK telephone Talk & Support Service.

In her spare time, Rachael enjoys socialising with her friends and family. She also enjoys audio-described theatre and cinema, live concerts, listening to music, travelling, attending the gym, watching and supporting Manchester City, and eating out.

Rachel says: “I have joined Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council so I can bring my lived experiences to help others.

“I am passionate about making changes in my local area to raise awareness. I want to make all services accessible and available for people with sight loss.”

Greater Manchester SLC member, Hayley Kellard. She has long, blonde hair and is wearing glasses. She is seated, smiling at the camera.

Hayley Kellard

Hayley was born with a rare genetic condition called Wagner’s Syndrome and has been visually impaired since birth. She lives in Stalybridge, Tameside with her husband Scott, dog Paddy, and two tortoises Ted & Kate, Hayley enjoys reading, walking the dog and foraging in the warmer months.

Hayley works part time for Citizens Advice and also runs her own business.

Hayley says “I’m really excited to start volunteering with Manchester Sight Loss Council. I hope I can help to make things more accessible for blind and partially sighted people.”

Headshot of Greater Manchester SLC member, Gill Douglas, she is standing against a cream wall, smiling at the camera.

Gill Douglas

Coming soon!

Helen Lawson

Coming soon!

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