Rodney Powell Volunteer Awards: 2023 Winners
“Our volunteers are the centre of our work. Your passion and commitment are driving positive change.”
Mervyn Williamson, Trustee of Thomas Pocklington Trust
TPT launched the award to recognise and celebrate the contribution volunteers make to the charity and the lives of blind and partially sighted (BPS) people. This includes the immense contribution our Sight Loss Council volunteer members make to the lives of BPS people every day.
The awards are named after Rodney Powell, Thomas Pocklington’s great nephew who received an MBE for his services to BPS people. He was a trustee at TPT for 37 years from 1983 to 2020, when he sadly passed away.
Tricia Sail, one half of the winning team on the BBC1 series Race Across the World, hosted the awards. Tricia, is visually impaired and had about ten per cent sight in each eye whilst filming the show, was astounded by the quality of our volunteers’ work.
This year’s host, Tricia Sail, with Emma Hughes, Director of Services at TPT
“I found presenting the awards humbling, very humbling. Inspiring. The Sight Loss Councils are exceptional, and I am honoured to have been invited. The work they are doing to make people aware and make the world accessible – not just for visually impaired people, but all disabilities – really touched my heart.
“Sight Loss Councils are making the world better, for everybody. Everyone should be treated equally, whether you are sighted of not. From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to each of you. You are making so many changes across our society.”
Campaign of the Year
The Campaign of the Year award, sponsored by RNIB, was awarded to West of England SLC. This was for their work with Network Rail to develop an audio guide to help passengers navigate Bristol Temple Meads train station. This work was featured on national television.
Anela Wood, West of England SLC member, photographed smiling as the result was announced
Anela Wood, West of England SLC member, said:
“I am so proud of our Sight Loss Council for winning campaign of the year for the Temple Meads audio guide project.
“We spent a lot of time with Network Rail to get the audio guides right. It is fantastic to know they have made such a difference to some people’s lives. We have been told that people feel more confident to go to the station and use the trains – in some cases for the first time.
“It’s amazing to be a part of such an important and life changing project -especially when it gives people confidence and independence.”
Tricia Sail, Anela Wood, West Of England SLC member, and Charles Colquhoun, CEO of TPT
Individual of the Year
Our individual of the year award, sponsored by Thomas Pocklington Trust, was awarded to Julie Stephens, Gloucestershire SLC member.
Julie was nominated for using her local knowledge to proactively seek new opportunities to meet SLC priorities.
From left to right: Tricia Sail, Stuart & Julie Stephens, Gloucestershire SLC, guide dog Heidi, and Louise Robertshaw, Trustee at TPT.
“Just being nominated for this award is overwhelming but to actually win it was very emotional. Knowing my fellow Sight Loss Council members, family and friends took the time to vote for me is extremely touching. It shows how much people appreciate the hard work we SLC members do.
“Knowing that I can make a difference for visually impaired people now and in the future means so much. An enormous heartfelt thank you to TPT for this award which has spurred me on to do more in the future.”
Julie Stephens, Gloucestershire SLC member, pictured holding her award for Individual of the Year
Team of the Year
The Team of the Year award, sponsored by Blind Veterans, went to West of England SLC. They were nominated for their work to improve accessibility across healthcare settings and embed the Accessible Information Standard.
Alun Davies, Engagement Manager for South West England, holding the award for Team of the Year
Emma Blackmore, West of England SLC member, said:
“We honestly feel so proud about our work with North Bristol Trust. It’s having such a positive impact. This award is not only for us but the many members of staff who have been committed to working with us to make it possible.”
“This work is important as it will help improve blind and visually impaired people’s access to health care services. Also, information regarding their ongoing health care needs in, and outside, the hospital.
“This is an ongoing project, and we cannot wait to share where it goes next.”
From left to right: Helen Mitchell, Trustee at TPT, Alun Davies, Anela Wood, SLC member, and Tricia Sail.
The Outstanding Contribution award, sponsored by CDS, went to Sam Fox, Essex SLC, for her work with Essex Police. Sam worked to create a procedure so blind people can verify the person at their door is a police officer. The success of this work has implications for other police forces across England.
Sam Fox, Essex SLC member, pictured with a Golden Retriever
On winning the award, Sam said:
“When I was told that I had won the outstanding Contribution of the Year award, I was totally surprised. With so many deserving people of this award, why me? As a member of Essex Sight Loss Council, a small extremely hard-working group of volunteers, to even be nominated was a complete honour. To be shortlisted was a total surprise, and now to be a winner – words cannot truly express my feelings.
“I would like to thank every person who works to help people who are sight impaired, sensory impaired, and disabled. Every change, no matter how big or small, that is made – you are improving people’s lives.
“For this, it is not just me that is a winner, but every one of us. For that, I want to say thank you to you all.”
Mervyn Williamson, Trustee at TPT, with Samantha Leftwich, Engagement Manager for East England
Emma Hughes, Director of Services for Thomas Pocklington Trust, said:
“Our Rodney Powell Volunteering Awards provide an opportunity to thank all our volunteers and celebrate their hard work. They are at the heart of what we do, continue to make our Sight Loss Councils go from strength to strength, and in the last year have achieved so much. I can’t wait to see what the future unfolds in the coming years. Thank you.”
Louise Connop, Senior Engagement Manager for Central England, with Meena Ratu, Birmingham and Black Country SLC member
Lesley Robinson, Anna Baldwin, and Josie Clark, North Yorkshire SLC members
Steve Keith, Birmingham and Black Country SLC member, pictured during his nomination for Outstanding Contribution
Davinder Kullar, London SLC member, with support worker Vinny, during the RPA ceremony
Louise Fairhurst, Director of Resources at TPT, with South West London SLC member, Lilian
Venetia Blind and Mel Teaser, our entertainment for the evening
Gloucestershire SLC members, Yahya and Julie, pictured with Tricia Sail
From left to right: Mel Teaser, Charles Colquhoun, CEO of TPT, Tricia Sail, Venetia Blind, and TPT Trustees, Adam Youatt, Helen Mitchell, and Mervyn Williamson.
Passionate about making a difference? Want to influence positive change? Our Sight Loss Councils, led by blind and partially sighted volunteers, are recruiting new members. Join us today!
We use our lived experience to create positive change for others. Together, we tackle local issues and work with businesses and service providers to improve the accessibility of their services.
Join us to help ensure visually impaired people in your area can live the lives they want to lead.
You’ll get the opportunity to create positive change for others, meet like-minded people, have a voice, feel valued, receive training and learn or enhance your skills. If you’re interested in public speaking or honing your social media skills, there’s something for everyone to get involved in.
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Publication date: 20 October 2023