RNIB Vision Pioneer Awards 2017: Finalists

Post date: 
Monday, 30 October 2017
Some of last year's finalists

Congratulations to all of the 2017 Vision Pioneer Award finalists. The finalists for this year's awards are:

Campaigner of the Year Award

Dave Taylor

Dave created a Lottery-funded charity, called Losing My Sight Magazine, which focuses on working-age people who have sight loss in the Portsmouth area. The charity helps people who are experiencing emotional difficulties because of their sight loss to socialise and network by participating in mini projects, and become more involved in the community. Dave was inspired to launch the charity after his experience of losing his sight.

National Federation of the Blind of the UK

The National Federation of the Blind of the UK have been actively campaigning to halt shared space roads across the UK. They have also been working to stop the removal of controlled push button crossings and kerbs, which blind and partially sighted people require to independently navigate their town centres. 

Simon Berry

In May 2016, Simon campaigned to ensure that all children and young people who require specialist frames have the same level of care throughout the country. He had identified an inequality in service for children with special facial characteristics. Simon started an online petition and took the issue to an MP, who raised the anomaly with the Secretary of State for Health and the Head of Primary Care Commissioning at NHS England.


Innovation Award

Jackie Frost

Jackie, a trained Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) saved Forest Sensory Services, a charity for people with sight loss, from closure due to lack of funds. Jackie also forged links with many organisations to provide a complete range of services to the charity’s clients. Through her hard work and dedication, the charity is now thriving and has extended its services to include people with dementia.

Adrian Iuga

In collaboration with King's College Hospital’s King's Health Partners, Adrian has set up a new screening pilot to provide a robust method of early identification and clear referral pathways to mental health services for patients with sight loss. Previously, if Adrian had concerns about the mental wellbeing of a patient, he had to write to the counselling service. Now, patients complete questionnaires, which are uploaded to the hospital electronic records service, providing clinicians with relevant information. The new system also provides the data needed for better studies of the problem.

Fiona McMullen

Fiona has been managing the Oldham children and young people (CYP) project, which through her work is an example of an innovative approach to partnership working. Fiona has enabled the partnership to achieve their joint aims in line with their vision strategy – educating about eye health, supporting children with vision impairment to become more independent, and encouraging them to grow into confident and independent adults. 


Professional of the Year Award

Jackie Kidd

Jackie is Senior Deafblind worker at Hertfordshire County Council who demonstrates a real dedication to her role. Despite Jackie’s weighty caseload, she champions Sensory Services, supports colleagues and always makes time for other people. Going beyond her role, she also helps to lead the Deafblind Service. The people who have been supported by Jackie have said they found her empathetic, supportive and someone who genuinely listens to their needs.

Corinna Swift

Corinna is an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) for St Paul’s Eye Unit. Corinna has improved the practical and emotional support for patients by devising a Sight Loss Pack for staff and patients in her own time. The pack was a game-changer and vastly improved patient and staff interaction. She also developed and delivered a staff training programme across the Trust. 

Steve Whitmore

Steve, a Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Special Constable, has been the driving force behind a project to provide detainees in custody with access to books. The project is called Books in the Nick, and has provided more than 4,000 free books to custody suites in the MPS and eight other police forces.  Thanks to Steve, detainees now have access to books in large print, braille and other accessible formats.


Teacher of the Year Award

Alan Bell

Alan had an idea – a confidence-building, personal safety skills course for people with low or no vision. He proceeded to develop lessons and teach practical self-defence skills to people with sight loss. As a direct result of Alan’s personal tuition and mentoring, two students became the first-ever registered blind personal safety/self defence instructors in Scotland, and one of them went on to win a martial arts award. 

Nathalie Bufton

Nathalie is Head of independent Living Skills at New College Worcester (NCW) a national residential School and College for young people aged 11 to 19 who are blind or visually impaired. She teaches students crucial independent living skills, preparing students for life beyond the College. She works hard at cross-campus cohesion to ensure skills are practised on the residential side of College as well as in the classroom. She has also built relationships with other organisations to raise awareness of visual impairment, such as Sight Concern and the University of Worcester, where she is a guest lecturer. Her presentation at Sight Village Birmingham in 2017 ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook and other Survival Skills’ was very well received.

Keith Hipkiss and Mandy Rowles

Keith and Mandy are both martial arts instructors at Warrior Martial Arts in Congleton. Without hesitation they welcome anyone into their Martial Arts family, helping them to thrive in every way possible through Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). Making simple but impactful adjustments like coming closer to show techniques, repeating instructions, placing students where they feel comfortable to see, and in BJJ, demonstrating techniques where vision doesn't have to be used.


Team of the Year Award

Bradford Sensory Service Vision Impairment Team 

The Bradford Sensory Service Vision Impairment Team work with families throughout early years, school, further and higher education settings. They support families from the earliest diagnosis and referral to ensure there is a consistent pathway of support and teaching, and a clear development of the Visual Impairment (VI) specialist curriculum. Their outstanding contribution has seen them awarded the Regional Vision Impairment Quality Mark (Yorkshire and Humber).

ECL Social Care Service Sensory Team

Since 2009, ECL’s Sensory Team has been delivering a range of services for people who have sight, hearing or dual sensory loss across Essex. What makes this team stand out is the constant evolution of services to bridge gaps in provision and break down barriers, and its commitment to fully involving the people it aims to serve in all aspects of its work. Over a quarter of the ECL Sensory team are people with sensory impairments. This year the team also launched the Sensory Access Charter Mark, with the objective of developing a society where people with sensory impairments have the same access to services and businesses as everyone else. 

Hertfordshire Sensory Service Team

The Hertfordshire Council's Sensory Services team have demonstrated a strong sense of commitment by continuously improving their skills and fostering a positive can-do attitude. As a result, they have been able to support their waiting list of service users with visual impairments. The team have also developed a specialist career progression scheme for rehab and deafblind workers, called the Sensory Career Progression scheme, which is unique in the sector.


Voice of the Community Award

Audrey Gardiner

Audrey is an ambassador for inclusion within the community of visually impaired people in Lancashire. Both a Seeing It My Way Co-ordinator at Galloways and an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) at various hospitals, Audrey provides front line support to people at different stages in their sight loss journey. Audrey works tirelessly to ensure each of her patients has access to the resources and assistance they need, directing them to specialist services if required.  

Imran Haq

Imran is a Specialist Registrar in Ophthalmology who has created a number of patient information videos to help patients understand their eye conditions. He was inspired to do this after becoming aware that even though many people are given a diagnosis which changes their life, they may not understand what their eye condition means, a situation which can be frightening. Imran created a website to host the videos that he wrote and edited himself.

Paul Stark

Paul is a volunteer with Tandem Trekker – a tandem cycling club for people with visual impairments. Tandem Trekker enables many blind and partially sighted people to get out and ride in a safe and social environment, some for the first time since they lost their sight. As well as committing much of his time to the committee, Paul helps to organise and lead many of the rides. Paul’s guidance and support over the years has helped the club to grow and operate sustainably at an independent level.


Lifetime Achievement Award

The judges will select their own shortlist for the Lifetime Achievement Award from the nominations made to all award.

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