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Congratulations Sarah

Photo of Sarah at the awards standing in front of a sign that says Inspirational Women of Sheffield. She is holding her award and her guide dog is with her Huge congratulations to Sarah, our client and volunteer, who won an award at the Sheffield Star's Inspirational Women of Sheffield event last night (12th May 2022).

The room was full of Inspirational Women and it was lovely (and sometimes very moving) to hear the stories of those who had been shortlisted and who won their categories. So we were over the moon that Sarah won her category 'The Dorrett Buckly-Greaves MBE Award for Community.

Sarah is one of our amazing team of volunteers and is is lovely to be able to shine a light their work at these events. At the last event in 2020, just before the pandemic, another of our volunteers, Margaret who has supported our charity for over 30 years was also shortlisted.  

Here is Sarah's story

Sarah volunteers for SRSB and RSS. However, not only is she a dedicated volunteer, but she is also a client who has experienced a transformation from absolute despair and denial about the limitations of her sight loss, to a woman who happily welcomes the challenges that each day brings. She acknowledges that becoming involved with the charity was a catalyst in this transformation.

Since the resulting growth in her confidence, she has taken part in several daring fundraising activities to give something back, such as a Skydive, Firewalk, Blind Driving and a Wing Walk! Her talents are not limited to fundraising however; she now wants to raise awareness of sight loss, and help others with a visual impairment to regain their confidence too. She volunteers with SRSB/RSS's Visual Impairment Awareness (VIA) Training and speaks at ‘Looking Ahead’ courses, for people who are newly registered or experiencing new challenges with their sight loss.

Public speaking is something that at one time, she never thought she could do! But now, Sarah says, “I've talked to big groups of children who asked lovely questions such as how do I dream, talked to people in the workplace, discussed with psychology students the emotional side of sight loss; the isolation and the feeling that there is no point to life. It’s hard to believe I was in that dark place myself, it seems like a lifetime ago.”

During the pandemic, Sarah quickly adapted, becoming a Tele Friend volunteer, and she talks about it here (comment in April 21): "I have a group of ladies, my Golden Girls, that I call regularly. They're all over 80, all live alone, all have sight loss, all been shielding and housebound. I've shared their highs and lows, we've laughed and cried, what I don't know about the 40s and 50s isn't worth knowing! Yesterday, rang them all. I managed to talk to 2 of them, both were sat in their gardens full of positivity full of plans, a pure joy. The others were all OUT! Spent today calling them and the difference was immense as they had all been out of the house with a loved one. All so much to tell me, where they'd been. Some had gone to their children’s house, or just for a walk. Again, all full of plans and positivity for the future. I feel like a proud parent seeing them spread their wings! and so thankful they have all kept safe and free of this virus and very humble."

She has now resumed volunteering for Looking Ahead and VIA Training. During the pandemic Liz and Sarah adapted their presentations to suit online methods while restrictions didn’t allow in-person sessions, and were delighted to begin in-person groups again as soon as they were able. 

Sarah has made a big impact on many people and helped to enable many to come to terms with their sight loss by being a shining example of the happiness that can be found through acceptance. “People tell me I am an inspiration, but for me it’s just about going out and getting a life which makes you happy.”

Very well done and very well deserved Sarah! and our congratulations go to all the other amazing nominees and winners! 

Many thanks to the Sheffield Star for organising the event and all the sponsors.  

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Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind links