North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council: Meet the Members

Meet the staff

Headshot of Iain Mitchell, Senior Engagement Manager for York & Humber. He is looking at the camera smiling. he is wearing a white shirt and grey, patterned tie.

Iain Mitchell

I am the senior Engagement Manager for York and Humberside.

I originate from the other side of the Pennines but fell in love with Yorkshire when I studied at university here.  I jumped at the chance to come back in 2021.

I have two lovely rescue dogs; I enjoy walking them and the unconditional love they provide. I enjoy performance of all types and history is a subject I often delve into as a keen quizzer.

However, my real Achilles Heel is my love for Liverpool FC. I still have my season ticket and go to as many games as I can.

I was born with Albinism, Nystagmus, and photo sensitivity. I strongly believe that we need to keep the challenges that blind and partially sighted people face as an active, open, and ongoing conversation. It is only then we can enjoy the same level of opportunity in accessing the goods and services which are available to all members of our local communities.

We welcome everyone with a visual impairment to join us in the work we do. We want to raise awareness and influence change to help blind and partially sighted people to live the lives they want to lead.

Headshot of Belle Whitely, West Yorkshire SLC member. Belle has long, brown, hair. She is looking at the camera, smiling.

Belle Whitely

Belle is the Sight Loss Council coordinator for Yorkshire and Humberside.

Belle has the genetic eye condition, Stargardt’s disease, and has been losing her sight since she was eight years old. She is passionate about making a difference to the lives of blind and partially sighted people due to her own personal experiences of living with sight loss.

Prior to working with Sight Loss Councils, she worked for Opera North. It was here she discovered her love of classical music.

In her spare time, Belle enjoys going to the theatre, spending time with friends, family, and her little dog, and exploring the world.

Meet the members

Image of Anna Baldwin, taken from the side. She is standing next to a green hedge. She is wearing a white coat and smiling.

Anna Baldwin

I retired as an English Literature teacher in 2011 and my sight severely deteriorated a year later.

I quickly learned the value of peer support. Being helped by those with lived experience of sight loss, and in turn helping others. I find this very empowering.

I have served as a trustee for MySight York and enjoy setting up groups for The Macular Society. I am the secretary for the Social Eyes group, and run a U3A group, teaching accessibility features on iPhones.

York SLC has been working with York Council to provide something similar for windows users.

I really enjoy being around adventurous VIPs. Being a SLC member gives me constant opportunities to help to change the world and consequently, to change myself.

Jackie Jones

Jackie joined North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council because she is passionate about improving access and inclusivity for people with visual impairments in the community.

Jackie has over 30 years professional experience in roles ranging from youth community services, community mental health and counselling, training and management, senior lecturing in social studies and was the Head of Department for Counselling in further and higher education.

She stepped back from full time professional work about 10 years ago as she wanted to focus on voluntary work for people with sight loss. Jackie found this work very enriching, and as a result founded an online sight loss service which provides information and support, called

Jackie is also a mindfulness practitioner and a registered mindfulness teacher.

Jackie said: “As a member of the NYSLC I feel we can achieve even more with our campaigns to improve everyday living for people with sight loss.”

Headshot of Josie Clarke. Josie is wearing a red top and a chunky silver necklace. She has shoulder length hair. She is smiling at the camera.

Josie Clarke

I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 1999.

I spent my career in education, starting as a science teacher, before moving into special education needs. I then became a special-needs advisory teacher before setting up an education consultancy with colleagues. I retired in 2017 and current interests include watercolour painting and sailing.

I feel that it is important that we as a VI community are ‘out and about’ as much as possible and that we join in activities and events. The more the ‘general public’ see people with sight loss achieving and enjoying life, the better.

I see Sight Loss Councils as an enabling organisation, who encourage and support people to do this.

Headshot of Lesley Robinson, North Yorkshire SLC member. Lesley is standing against a cream wall. She has short hair and is wearing glasses. She is smiling at the camera.

Lesley Robinson

Lesley moved to North Yorkshire from Scotland two years ago. Shortly after, her eyesight deteriorated due to Macular Degeneration.

Lesley has volunteered for several organisations in the past but felt unable to continue this due to her sight loss. Lesley soon realised she has skills that she could share with others and set up a VI book club in Easingwold. She is in the process of setting a second virtual book club for York and the surrounding area.

Lesley would like to help visually impaired people to use technology to make life easier – she has found this invaluable.

Lesley said: “When the opportunity arose to join North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council, I joined. I want to add value and make a difference in visually impaired people’s lives.”

Headshot of Liz Pimperton, North Yorkshire SLC member. Liz is seated, looking at the camera with a big smile on her face.

Liz Pimperton

Liz is registered blind, with a rare genetic disorder called Biedel Bejo syndrome, which main attributes are retinitis pigmentosa. She lives in Scarborough, with her husband and retired Guide Dog Eaves.

Liz worked in the hospitality and tourism industry before she retrained as a massage therapist. She has been self-employed for a number of years.

Liz enjoys lots of sports, including swimming, cycling, walking, and hiking. She has also completed many marathons, triathlons, and mountain walks. Liz also has a passion for baking – especially cakes. Her favourite cake is coffee and walnut sponge cake

Liz says “I am delighted to be joining North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council. I would like to make Scarborough a better place for blind and partially sighted people to live in, and to participate in things without added complications. I want to ensure people with sight loss in my area can live their life as they would like to.”

Headshot of North Yorkshire SLC member, Matthew Jones. Matthew is facing the camera smiling. He is wearing glasses.

Matthew Jones

Matthew has been severely visually impaired all his life. As such, he is acutely aware of the challenges, and opportunities open, to people living with sight loss.

Matthew says he was lucky to have a good education and a successful career in accountancy and company management. He retired as an MD of an international company in 2019.

He said: “I have joined North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council as I would now like to see if I can help other visually impaired people by volunteering for Thomas Pocklington Trust.”

Headshot of Peter Monk-Steel. He has short dark hair and a goatee. He is wearing black rimmed glasses and smiling at the camera.

Peter Monk-Steel

I have been a member of York Sight Loss Council since it started in April 2021.

I am visually impaired, but also have Cerebral Palsey, which means I use a wheelchair to get about. Having a dual disability means I have some specific and unique challenges in accessing the goods and services that many people take for granted.

I am very passionate about improving public transport and taxi services.  York is very short on accessible taxis which I can use. I also sit on the Sight Loss Council’s Health and Wellbeing sub-group.

I’m currently studying for a level 2 certificate in counselling, and I volunteer each week to work with children with disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Yorl SLC member, Susan Dinkinson. Susan is leaning against a white wall, facing the camera, smiling. She is wearing glasses and has short, bobbed, hair.

Susan Dickinson

Susan returned to York a few years ago, having previously lived in London, Cambridgeshire, and East, West, and North Yorkshire. Susan is enjoying the move and the freedom of being able to walk everywhere.

Susan enjoys music, going to the theatre, and walking – albeit rather more slowly these days! She derives enormous pleasure from her eight grandchildren.

Susan has been registered blind for the last few years and looks forward to being part or York SLC.

She said: “I welcome the opportunity to raise awareness of some of the day to day hazards and difficulties that blind people face.  When people are made aware of these difficulties so many of them can be resolved.”

Headshot of Tony Mollica, North Yorkshire SLC member. He is standing against a light blue wall, and is wearing glasses.

Tony Mollica

Tony was raised in Italy. He has a diploma in Accrual Accounting and went on to be a fabricated worker.

In 2011, Tony began to lose his sight due to a neurological condition. He is now registered as severely sight impaired and is deaf in his left ear.

Tony enjoys spending time outdoors with friends, listening to music and playing a variety of sports – particularly football.

Tony joined North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council because he is passionate about the challenges that visually impaired people face. He wants to raise awareness and educate the public about these challenges. Tony wanted to join a charity where he can get the message out to others and network with other visually impaired people.

York SLC member, Verity Peat. Verity is standing at an angle against a cream wall. Her head is tilted towards the camera, and she is smiling.

Verity Peat

Verity lives in York and has been visually impaired, with hearing difficulties, since birth. She has a guide dog called Ted, who is a real character.

Verity joined York Sight Loss Council as she believes it allows blind and partially sighted people to have their voices heard on issues that are specific to the everyday challenges they face.

Verity said: “With York is a medieval city and there are lots of challenges on accessibility, this is one of my key interests. I would like York to be a more open and inclusive place for blind and partially sighted people to live and visit.”

Head shot of Hilary Boon, North Yorkshire SLC member. Hilary has shoulder length brown hair and is wearing a white top. She is smiling.

Hilary Boon

I was born with Congenital Cataracts, Nystagmus, and photo phobia.                                                                                                                          I spent my formative years in Special Education with other visually impaired people. I gained a good education, but lacked an understanding of what having sight loss in the ‘real’ world would be like.

After gaining a Master’s in Psychology and Social Work, I worked in both community and hospital settings, providing support for adults experiencing life changing events.

After having children, I took a different path, and set up an advertising business. This allowed flexibility for childcare. I recently sold this business and I’m currently looking for opportunities to use my experiences in a positive way.

Even with the introduction of legislation such as the DDA and the Equality Act, there are still many inequalities for visually impaired people. I have particularly noticed the difference in the education provision for visually impaired children. This may impact on their future job prospects and their mental health.

Whilst there is a need for legislative change, the starting place is to eliminate prejudice and ignorance in society. We need visually impaired people to be included, valued, and given the status they deserve.  Sight Loss Councils provide the perfect forum to bring about this positive change.

Photo of Ian Lees, North Yorkshire SLC member. Iain is looking at the camera, smiling. He is wearing dark sunglasses, and a grey shirt and tie.

Ian Lees

Ian is registered blind and says this has given him a breadth of knowledge on how best to manage some of the daily challenges people with sight loss encounter. He is very passionate about sharing this knowledge with other blind and partially sighted people.

Ian has undergone long cane training for over a year, and has succeeded to the next level of guide dog training. As a result, he is on the waiting list for a guide dog.

He has been a member of MySight York for over a year, and during this time the team’s support has provided me with the confidence to live with my disability. In his spare time, Ian enjoys playing VI tennis, bowling, and swimming.

Ian said: “I have joined North Yorkshire Sight Loss Council as I am inspired to aid them in their journey to provide a more accessible community for those who are sight impaired.

“With my recent experience in various patient-led accessibility assessments of local hospitals, I have gained an insight into what working to achieve further accessibility entails. In turn, I am passionate about continuing in similar work now that I am a member of the SLC. I hope that I will do those who are visually impaired, like myself, justice by what is achieved in my time as a member.

Jade Puckering

Coming soon!

Alan Banks

Coming soon!

Karen Prudden

Coming soon!

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