Merseyside: 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 Council Members

Norma Williams

Norma Williams

Norma has over 25 years of experience in governance, both in community and strategic corporate leadership where I focused on social care and community development. She is interested in engaging with other visually impaired people like herself and feels that the only way change can happen is by being involved and part of the decisions that make a difference to blind and partially sighted people’s lives. Norma is keen to make organisations and partners aware of people’s abilities rather than their disabilities.

Naomi Ditchfield

Naomi Ditchfield

Naomi has been visually impaired since birth and has a Guide Dog called Dixie. She is a volunteer & Trustee at Bradbury Fields Rehabilitation Centre for Blind and Partially Sighted people in Liverpool. Naomi enjoys supporting Liverpool FC as a season ticket holder, even taking her Guide Dog to all of the home games. Her other hobbies include walking and hiking, tandem riding and visiting various places of interest. Naomi feels it is important to raise awareness of the issues facing blind and partially sighted people in their local areas.

Mick Spriggs

Mick Spriggs

Michael is originally  from Birmingham and moved to Liverpool 28 years ago. I have a condition called Stargardt disease meaning he lost his sight at the age of 11. He joined the Merseyside Sight Loss council to help all working age people with sight loss to find a way into employment, hoping that their experiences are more positive than his own. He believes that there are so many experienced and talented people out there who have a lot to offer. In his spare time Mick enjoys supporting Aston Villa FC.

Laura Kennedy

Laura Kennedy

Laura has worked for the NHS for 15 years so brings a wealth of public sector experience to the sight loss council. She lost her sight overnight at the age of 31 so has a lot of insight into the barriers that people blind and partially sighted people can face. Laura is very passionate about making a difference due to the excellent support she received following her diagnosis.

Laura continues to work full time and in her spare time she enjoys reading, running, travelling and shopping.

Mike Wright

MIke Wright

I have been totally blind since birth. I frequently use public transport while carrying out work as a piano tuner. I would describe myself as a confident traveller with an ability to both plan and execute various routes.

In 1997, I became one of the first people to cross the English Channel in a dragon boat. This is a sport I continue to pursue. A particular aspect of dragon boat racing that gives me some personal fulfilment is that I am able to compete with and against able-bodied paddlers.

I have a good working knowledge of various types of technical devices such as smart phones and computers. I am sufficiently confident when it comes to setting a number of these from new out of the box.

I have a reasonable knowledge of politics – both at national and local level.

Headshot of Brendan Ferrell, Merseyside SLC member. He has fair hair and a beard, and is smiling at the camera.

Brendan Farrell

Brendan is partially sighted and also has cerebral palsy. He uses an electric wheelchair to get around.

Brendan  joined Merseyside Sight Loss Council because he wants to educate people around accessibility and the issues that particularly affect partially sighted wheelchair-users.

Brendan really enjoys going to the gym, he is a keen boxer, and also likes to swim.

Julie Bennett

Coming soon!

Headshot of Merseyside SLC member, Mike Bell. Mike is holding his cane, and smiling at the camera.

Mike Bell

Coming soon!

Headshot of Merseyside SLC member, Elliott Greco. Elliot is wearing a black t-shirt and has short, dark hair. He is looking towards the camera, smiling.

Elliott Greco

Coming soon!

Headshot of Steven Bignell, Merseyside SLC member. He is standing against a cream wall, facing the camera, smiling. He is wearing a grey t-shirt.

Steven Bignall

Steven was born with Congenital Nystagmus. He grew up in Runcorn but moved to Liverpool in his twenties.

Steven is a production supervisor in the pharmaceutical industry. He also volunteers with his local youth club supporting teenagers with a wide range of issues.

He enjoys bike riding, studying, photography and traveling.

Stephen says: “I joined Merseyside Sight Loss Council as it provides an opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences. The SLCs understand sight loss conditions and what’s the best way to improve things for visually impaired people in their day to day lives.”

Photo of James Connell, Merseyside SLC member. James is standing against a wall, looking at the camera. He is wearing sunglasses and holding his cane in one hand. James is smiling at the camera.

James Connell

Coming soon!

Headshot of Carolyn Conroy, Merseyside SLC member. Carolyn is looking to the side, smiling. She has long fair hair, and is wearing a dark top.

Carolyn Conroy

Carolyn is an art historian and former postdoctoral lecturer and researcher at the University of York. She has a condition called Pathological Myopia and became registered sight impaired in 2020 after many years of deteriorating sight. Since her registration she has been learning how to use a long cane and records her experiences of this and her sight loss journey in an online blog.

Carolyn says “I am looking forward to joining Merseyside Sight Loss Council. I am particularly keen to promote better accessibility and engagement for people with sight loss in art galleries, museums and the wider cultural sector.”

If you would like to collaborate with the Liverpool Sight Loss Council on a project, please get in touch.

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