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Photo of Sheila 

“Thank God for Mappin Street” is a phrase which comes up often in a conversation with Sheila about the role SRSB has played in helping her shape a new life after sight loss. It will strike a chord with many people when Sheila talks about being “in the depths of despair” at the beginning. Now at 86 Sheila is one of our most enthusiastic and supportive clients.

“I am a people person, and a chatty Cathy. I take it on myself to welcome people here, take them under my wing; people matter to me.

“I want people to know that sight loss is not the end -  it’s the beginning of another chapter in your life. It’s a different lifestyle but grab it with both hands,” is her message.

Sheila admits it was very hard at first. Her blindness is a complication of diabetes and after a great deal of treatment when a consultant told her quite abruptly that nothing more could be done, she felt as if her life was over.

“I went home, locked the door, drew the curtains, took the phone off the hook and sat crying and crying about all the things I wouldn’t be able to do. It was pure self-pity. It didn’t do me any good. It was hard, but I realised there is a life, but you have to get it yourself.”

Help came from her family and from SRSB. “They helped me when I needed it most, pointing me in the right direction and if I needed help they could get it for me. Thank God for Mappin Street, although I didn’t actually come here at first, I didn’t want to be ‘disabled’.

“My first activity was Blind Bowling. I heard a man on the radio saying it was held in Hillsborough Park. So I took myself in, it was crown green bowls. I told them I couldn’t do sport because I couldn’t see properly. They gave me a wood, and a helper and 20, maybe 25 years later I am still bowling.”

In her years coming to the SRSB Activity Centre Sheila’s ‘can do’ attitude has seen her try out most things, the baking group, all kinds of crafts and she’s now a big fan of the Culture Club.

“I say ‘put me down for everything’. I have an inquisitive mind and I like most things. We do theatre trips, days out, the most recent to Eden Camp. I need to have a guide though in case of falling”

“I really enjoy coming here, I’d say to anyone try it. You get transport in, drinks and biscuits, two choices for lunch and desert and the transport home as well as all the activities for £6. As I say, ‘Thank God for Mappin Street’.”

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Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind links