Nottinghamshire 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 Nottinghamshire SLC member, Kay Dear. She is standing against a cream wall, smiling at the camera.

Kay Dear

Kay lives in Nottingham and is totally blind.

Kay enjoys helping others with sight loss and currently volunteers for My Sight Nottinghamshire as a receptionist. Prior to this, she worked as a Sight Loss Advisor intern for them. She has also chaired National Federation of the Blind Nottingham – an organisation which campaigns for access and equality.

In her spare time, Kay loves meeting new people and socialising, listening to music, singing in choirs, and is also an internet radio broadcaster.

Kay says, “I decided to join Nottinghamshire Sight Loss Council as I want to help change things in the Nottingham area in a positive way.”

Headshot of Geoff Pickance, Nottinghamshire SLC member. He is standing against a red wall, looking at the camera.

Geoff Pickance

Geoff is from Nottingham. He has Open Angle Glaucoma and is registered blind. Geoff has been undergoing treatment for over 40 years.

Geoff is keen to help blind and partially sighted people live their lives, regain confidence and be independent.

Geoff has worked as an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) for 18 years at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham. He has also worked for Blind Veterans UK, RNIB and helped set up the Nottingham Forest Disabled Supporters’ Association.

Geoff says: “If you are blind or partially sighted, daily life can be very difficult in many ways. Being in touch with others in a similar position can be a lifesaver.”

Headshot of Nottinghamshire SLC member, Caroline Wootton. She is standing against a black background, and smiling at the camera. She is wearing a red top and sunglasses.

Caroline Wootton

Caroline was born partially sighted. She has albinism and nystagmus.

Caroline worked as a support worker at West Notts College, where she taught students how to use assistive technology with Microsoft Office.

She has volunteered for Nottinghamshire Royal Society for the Blind, Royal National Institute for the Blind, British Blind Sports and NewLink – a charity which works on the development of high-quality IT training for people with a disability.

In her spare time, Caroline enjoys spinning fibre and weaving. In lockdown, she used the time to learn to sew.

Caroline says: “I look forward to being part of Nottinghamshire Sight Loss Council and making a difference to the lives of people with a vision impairment.”

Headshot of Jane Hawthorn, Nottinghamshire SLC member. She is sitting down, and smiling up at the camera.

Jane Hawthorn

Jane lives in Nottinghamshire and lost her sight at the age of 8 due to tumours on the optic nerves. Jane enjoys being with others to promote and support disability issues and has set up a social group for young adults with disabilities which has been running for thirty years.

Jane’s previous career was in administration, where she worked in banking and with an oncology team in the NHS. She has also worked with the probation service, and currently works in Social Care.

Jane says: “I am keen to join Nottinghamshire Sight Loss Council to campaign, be with, and support people with a vision impairment. I want to improve lives and try to improve inclusion and equality for all. With like-minded people we will get there. Upwards and onwards”.

Headshot of Jo Pascoe, Nottinghamshire SLC member. She is sitting in a restaurant, looking at the camera.

Jo Pascoe

Jo lives in Nottinghamshire and is partially sighted. In 2012 she suffered a brain haemorrhage.

Before retiring, Jo was employed as a Human Resources advisor at a local council where she specialised in the Equality Act. Jo’s interests include aqua aerobics, socialising with friends, doing quizzes, and watching Nottingham Forest.

Jo says: “I have joined Nottinghamshire Sight Loss Council to ensure that the acts that are in place are followed fully.”

A headshot of Alan Barnes, Nottinghamshire SLC member. He is standing against a wall, wearing glasses, and smiling at the camera.

Alan Barnes

Alan was registered blind in December 2021 following an accident. Originally from the South East, Alan moved to Nottinghamshire in 2000 with work. He has had a successful career in sales and marketing, primarily within the food industry.

Alan is a keen sports fan, and particularly likes football. He also enjoys audio books, quizzes, rambling, and modern jive dancing.

Due to the sudden impact of his sight loss and the personal struggle to adapt; Alan became acutely aware of the challenges facing people with sight loss.

Alan says: “I joined Nottinghamshire SLC to help raise awareness of the issues of living with a vision impairment. I want to use my experiences to support others who are in similar circumstances.”

Headshot of Nick Kirker, Nottinghamshire SLC member. Nick has taken a selfie, and is looking at the camera. He is wearing glasses, smiling.

Nick Kirker

Nick has had deteriorating sight from birth due to dislocated lenses, he has been registered blind for almost thirty years.

He has benefitted from numerous medical break throughs and similar advances in technological aids.

Nick says: “With twenty years’ experience in sugar quality assurance,  and seven years providing the best facilities for innovative teams to perform faultlessly, I think it’s about time I did something worthwhile. I hope my drive for excellence will be useful to Nottinghamshire Sight Loss Council.”

Photo of Maggie Anguish, Nottinghamshire SLC member. Maggie has short, grey hair and is wearing a white shirt and beaded necklace. She is smiling at the camera.

Maggie Anguish

Maggie lives in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire and was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa when she was in her 40’s.

Maggie enjoys theatre performance and accessibility, learning about different cultures/environments and Sci Fi television programmes.

Maggie studied Stage Management at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.  Maggie spent the next years in various theatre environments, ending up in Derby. During this time, Maggie taught technical performing arts in colleges and finally became support in secondary education to students with behavioural and emotional difficulties. She placed an emphasis on performing arts as a tool for change.

Maggie says: “I am hoping my role with Nottinghamshire Sight Loss Council will allow me to use my professional and problem-solving skills to enable a more positive attitude. I want to raise the expectations of the visually impaired people in a sight-oriented world.”

Headshot of Josh Brown, Nottinghamshire SLC member. Josh has a shaved head and a short, grey beard. He is wearing a black hoodie and looking at the camera.

Josh Brown

Joshua is 33 years old and was born with Glaucoma and Nystagmus. He is now registered as blind.
Joshua enjoys keeping fit and goes to the gym four times a week. Here, he participates in exercise classes, with spinning being his favourite. He also plays goalball for the Fen Tigers, a club in March, Cambridgeshire.
Joshua has enjoyed several roles across retail, catering, and within warehouses over the last 10 years.
Joshua said: “I am excited to join Nottinghamshire Sight Loss Council as I can bring my lived experience to the role. We live in such a sighted world, and I am very passionate about accessibility and inclusion. I feel I can make a change as an SLC volunteer. I see disability as an ability.”

Mark Sheppard, Nottinghamshire SLC member. Mark has short grey hair, is wearing a red coat, and smiling at the camera.

Mark Sheppard

Mark became sight impaired in his late 20’s. At this time, he was running a home improvement company in Nottingham, specialising in extensions, and fitting new kitchens and bathrooms.

Mark is a guide dog user and says this is essential for him to maintain a full-time role. Mark retrained, and now works as in rehabilitation with people with sight loss. He is also a specialist mental health social worker.

My interests include yoga, tandem cycling, swimming, and general fitness. I am an active grandparent, which involves regular horse riding holidays and sharing my experience of the gym with one of my grandchildren.

Mark says: “I have always been active within disability organisations such as RNIB and my local branch of the National Federation of blind people. I can bring this knowledge, skills and experience into my volunteering role at Nottinghamshire SLC.”

Sian Petty

Coming soon!

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