Bristol Sight Loss Council: Meet the Members

Bristol Sight Loss Council, launched in March 2019, has an active group of members who work to influence positive change in the city.  Meet the team below:

Meet the Staff

Alun Davies

Alun Davies

Alun is the Engagement Manager for the Bristol Sight Loss Council and he has been totally blind since losing his sight at 14. Alun has a long history of improving the lives of people with disabilities since getting involved with campaigns at University in the 1980s. In 1991, Alun moved to Bristol to work in community engagement for people with disabilities, aiming to break down barriers to society. As a former Councillor, Alun is well connected to the local community in Bristol and has vast work experience including working for a local authority in social services, a health service board and writing for the local newspaper.

Meet the Members

Anela Wood smiling

Anela Wood

Anela is Bristol born and bred and was born with Congenital Glaucoma, although she had some sight until the age of 19. Anela grew up in a large family with her parents and 5 siblings, who have always encouraged and supported her to be independent and ambitious.

Anela started off in a specialist school in south Bristol before moving into mainstream education from the age of 11. She completed her GCSEs before going on to City of Bristol College where she got 3 A-levels in Law, Sociology and English. I then went onto study a 3 year Bachelors degree in English at The University of the West of England where she graduated with an Upper Second Class degree.

Since then she has kept busy with a variety of paid and voluntary roles and courses. These range from administration, event planning, public speaking, fundraising, campaigning, journalism, public relations and so on.

In her free time, Anela enjoys seeing family and friends, going to the cinema and the theatre, walking when the weather is nice, travelling, reading mostly romance novels and childrens’ books, listening to all types of music, shopping to indulge her love of fashion and looking after her home, which features an ever-evolving tropical aquarium!

Anela is looking forward to working with the Sight Loss Council to help make the necessary changes needed in her local community, to make it more accessible to for blind and partially sighted residents.

Emma Blackmore smiling

Emma Blackmore

Emma was born with congenital rubella syndrome and has always been active in the health and social care field – experiencing it as a child and then, for the past 13 years, working for Sense charity.

She has had many roles, from admin to running an inclusive group for under 4s and home-schooled children.

In the past ten years, she has become an active campaigner for disability rights. This has included visiting parliament for campaigns for disabled people and delivering a petition to Downing Street.

Emma loves raising funds for good causes and has organised two successful fundraising events in the past seven years. She was also part of Bristol’s VI group which made the podcast City Of Threads and was co-host on the episode ‘Record Breaking Baby’.

Emma is always keen to effect change which is why she joined the SLC council.

Jerry Floyd

Jerry Floyd

Jerry was born with Optic Atrophy, a condition that involves a deterioration in the optic nerve and results in a good field of vision but with a greatly impaired ability to see detail. This has progressed throughout Jerry’s life and he is now registered as Severely Sight Impaired.

Jerry is a family man, enjoying a range of leisure activities that include reading (on his Kindle with huge fonts – he considers this to be his saviour!), keeping fit, going on holidays, running and being actively involved with his local Rotary Club. This consists of organising various events with young people and the community. He is married with two children and three grandchildren who are a delight to be with (well, most of the time anyway!)

Jerry received no support at school and learnt that he would need to be independent and resilient and not “to make a fuss”. He took a degree in Civil Engineering which he feels was a crazy thing for someone with low vision to do as driving was essential. Jerry achieved the degree and then qualified as an accountant. He spent most of his corporate career in a variety of senior financial management roles, but at age 48 he retired and set himself up as a self-employed accountant serving a client base that he progressively built up from scratch. He is now reducing his workload so that he can work part-time and develop other areas of interest, like the Sight Loss Council. Jerry is also a trustee of a local charity that helps adults with learning difficulties.

Head and shoulders shot of Stephen Hilton

Stephen Hilton

Stephen is a creative and active person with an interest in technology, the arts, local democracy and the environment.  He has a degree in Fine Art from Leeds University and a Masters in Social Research from Surrey University.

 He was a Director at Bristol City Council for a number of years before leaving in 2016 to set up his own consultancy business – City Global Futures. 

 Stephen was born with a visual impairment, which was diagnosed as Cone Rod Dystrophy only after the birth of his son, who has a similar condition.  Stephen has also developed Nystagmus and Cataracts as he has got older. He wears heavily tinted contact lenses but still has severely limited sight. 

 Stephen joined the Bristol SLC in March 2020 because he wants to do something about the high levels of unemployment faced by blind and partially sighted people.

 In his spare time Stephen likes to play piano, garden and travel, including long distance adventures on his tandem bicycle.

Holly Thomas

Holly has lived in Bristol for the best part of 20 years. She has partial sight and attended both specialist and mainstream schools. Holly studied Drama at University and then went on to train in dance. Holly is also a qualified social worker.

She has worked as a freelance dance artist and performer for around 20 years. Holly has also worked part-time in health and social care in the statutory and voluntary sector during this time.

Jenny Hodges

Jenny Hodges is totally blind following a car crash in 1995. She left school at 16 and worked as an office junior at a Stockbrokers in Bristol. She worked there in various departments for 10 years before being made redundant. After a short stint as a receptionist at the Chesterfield Hospital, Jenny then went on to become a Restaurant Manager which she loved! In February 1995, Jenny’s life changed rather dramatically following a car accident. After rehabilitation and learning to live again, Jenny had to change her outlook on life in order to stay positive.

She first volunteered with Bristol Royal Society for the Blind on their See-Saw Appeal, helping to fundraise to for the Society. Jenny attended College to learn the JAWS system and passed her examinations with the hope of getting a job. Jenny has done several voluntary posts within RNIB over the years, and is still a volunteer Campaign Co-ordinator for them.

Jenny enjoys tandem riding with Lifecycle, socialising, holidays and getting my teeth stuck into things of importance that need changing. Jenny is looking forward to helping things progress for blind and partially sighted people locally.

Louise Lifely

Louise moved to Bristol at 2 years old and throughout her teens took Guild Hall acting exams until the age of 18. She then spent almost a year in Italy working and seeing the country. Following this, Louise qualified as a Nurse in 1988 and returned to Bristol. She worked as an agency nurse for a year then went on a year-long working holiday to Australia.

Upon her return to the UK, Louise became manager of a nursing agency then moved on to the Bristol Royal Infirmary, working on The Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit. It was while working here that she noticed a change in her eyesight. Not long after Louise was diagnosed with Diabetic Retinopathy. She underwent intensive treatment and although she lost total sight in one eye, partial sight was saved in the other.

Louise went back to University in Bristol where she studied counselling and has also qualified in complimentary therapies. She became a volunteer for RNIB around 10 years ago, initially as a Befriender. Other volunteering roles included fundraising, administration and supporting patients in the Bristol Eye Hospital. This led Louise to completing Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) qualification. This has given me her broader understanding of support that is available to people with sight loss and the importance of early intervention for them.

Aside from this, Louise is also volunteering as a core divisor for the PECo theatre company which is working on a piece involving blind and partially sighted people.

Steve Ewens

Stebe is in his 50s and has been registered as severely sight impaired since the year 2000 as a result of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Steve was educated in mainstream schools in North Bristol and after completing A levels and went straight into full time work.

He worked for a series of insurance companies until he retired in 2013. In his career, Steve spent over 20 years in management roles, including all aspects of people, team, task and project management.

Since leaving work, Steve has volunteered for RNIB in a variety of customer facing and administrative roles. Steve has helped train junior doctors in visual impairment awareness and also helps test websites for accessibility from a sight loss perspective.

Steve lives in West Bristol with his partner, Jenny. His interests include listening to music, learning Spanish and travelling both in the UK and abroad. Steve goes to the gym regularly and also enjoys walking and tandem cycling.

Image shows Heather Armstrong, Bristol SLC member. She has shoulder length hair and is wearing glasses and a beaded necklace. she is smiling at the camera.

Heather Armstrong

I was born in Bristol, and I was fully sighted as a child.  I trained and qualified as a Psychiatric Nurse, but when I lost my sight at 21, I trained as a Chartered Physiotherapist in London.  I worked there until returning to Bristol in 1981.

As my career progressed, my clinical specialty was pain management, supporting people with long term pain problems.  I gained an Open University Degree in Social Sciences and became the Head of Physiotherapy Services at the Frenchay Healthcare NHS Trust. I moved into general management managing various services at the North Bristol NHS Trust and Bristol Primary Care NHS Trust as a Service Improvement Manager.

As part of my work, I have been fortunate to travel extensively to teach and present at conferences relating to my clinical specialty. I am an Honorary Member of the British Pain Society and a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

I have had guide dogs for most of my visually impaired life and I am a Speaker for Guide Dogs.  Since retiring, I have volunteered with RNIB and have been a trustee for Sight Support West of England since January 2020.

I love to travel and to read.  I have a tandem bicycle and a good friend as a front rider.  My main hobby is dancing – Ballroom and Latin – which I have enjoyed for many years.

I look forward to continuing to work with Bristol Sight Loss Council, contributing to the excellent work it is doing.


Leonie Watson

Coming soon!

Headshot of West of England SLC member, Hilary Rowles. She has shoulder length, fair hair and is wearing glasses. She is smiling at the camera.

Hilary Rowles

Hilary was diagnosed with Stargardts disease in 1993 and is registered as severely sight impaired.

Married, with two children, Hilary ran her own business whilst studying at Bath City College and UWE Bristol. Here she qualified as a lecturer working in catering, sugar craft, and Special Educational Needs for over 20 years.

Hilary is a has been a member of Vision North Somerset for twenty years and volunteered with RNIB in Bristol following her diagnosis.

Hilary said: “After retiring I always said I would like to give some of my time to volunteering. I hope to become a valued member of Bristol Sight Loss Council and the TPT team.”

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