Help call for sight support

Lend a Hand: Members of the Matlock based Sight Support group, who are looking for more members and volunteers to join the group.
Lend a Hand: Members of the Matlock based Sight Support group, who are looking for more members and volunteers to join the group.
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Twenty years ago volunteers came together and formed a club to support blind and visually impaired people in Matlock.

Over the years a team of dedicated helpers have provided support, a variety of activities, outings and a friendly shoulder to lean on for dozens of people in the area.

Best Pals: Sight Support volunteer Keith Fearn of Crich and his guide dog Dylan.

Best Pals: Sight Support volunteer Keith Fearn of Crich and his guide dog Dylan.

But now Matlock Visually Impaired People Club is searching for more volunteers to ensure its vital work continues.

Val Ward, 73, of Matlock, has been volunteering at the club, based at Victoria Court, since it started.

She went to the first meeting with her brother, Russell Ward, 74, and has been going to the fortnightly meetings ever since.

She said: “My brother is nearly blind and heard about the club starting up through an advert in the paper.

Lend a Hand: Founder and volunteer Lynne Lethbridge looks on as Jean Simpson and Netta Clayton of the Matlock Sight Support group relax with a game of dominoes.

Lend a Hand: Founder and volunteer Lynne Lethbridge looks on as Jean Simpson and Netta Clayton of the Matlock Sight Support group relax with a game of dominoes.

“I think the members enjoy it because they are all in the same boat so they can understand what others are going through.”

She added: “We would be very upset to lose it as we’ve put a lot of work into it over the years and many people have enjoyed it. A lot of members have been coming for years and don’t want it to finish.”

Lynne Lethbridge, who is blind, helped take over the running of the club with fellow volunteer Martyn Spolding, last year.

She said: “The members enjoy a game of domino. We have special dominoes with raised dots. We also play bingo and have a raffle. Sometimes we go out for meals or have a speaker.

“Everyone is so very friendly and it is nice to get together and be part of a group.”

The club is affiliated to Sight Support Derbyshire, a charity which provides essential services to blind and partially sighted people to help them to become independent.

Keith Fearn, 69, has been fundraising for the charity for several years.

Keith, who is registered blind and lives in Crich with his guide dog Dylan, has taken part in street collections, marathons and last year trekked up Mount Snowdon and Ben Nevis in aid of the charity.

He said: “Any volunteering is very important.

“I have seen this charity make a big difference to peoples’ lives and if you benefit from something you want to give something back.”

He added: “I would say to anyone who wants to volunteer with any charity, it is a very rewarding activity because I always say you get more pleasure in giving than receiving.

“If you have got any time to spare it is the most useful way to use it.”

Keith also runs a weekly walking group for blind and visually impaired people but is appealing for sighted volunteers and drivers to get involved.

To contact Keith call 01773 856619. To find out more about volunteering for Sight Support Derbyshire call 01332 287005 or email volunteers@sightsupportderbyshire.org.uk.

For more information about Matlock VIP Club, which meets on alternate Tuesdays from 2pm to 4pm, or to get involved call Martyn Spolding on 07858644643.