It was reading about SRSB’s Inspirational People which gave Val Batty the impetus to start enjoying herself again instead of grieving for her failing sight. Now Val is hoping that by telling her story she can also help others to overcome their difficulties and start to look forward instead of back.
Val spoke about her experiences to clients, volunteers and supporters at the society’s annual Insight meeting and ended her inspiring speech with these words:
"I want to thank SRSB for giving me my sight back because I felt so down and unable to do anything. Their encouragement has helped me to do all the things I really wanted to do.”
Later Val explains that what she said might have sounded strange because her vision will never return but by showing her how to overcome the difficulties, it’s as if SRSB has given her sight back.
“In 1999 when I was first diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy the optician just told me bluntly: 'The damage has already been done there is nothing I can do for you.’ I had laser treatment but my sight deteriorated. I became very depressed, I just felt that all the things I really enjoyed, I couldn’t do anymore.
“Giving up my car was the most horrendous thing I ever had to do. I used to sew a lot, but I sat at my sewing machine with huge heavy magnifying glasses that kept falling off and couldn’t see. I had a paddy and told my Dad to come and take the machine away I couldn’t bear having it. I used to love flower arranging and I couldn’t do that
“Everything anyone suggested I’d think ‘How can I do that I can’t see’ but I was getting the SRSB newsletters and reading about the inspirational people and all the activities that were going on. I was so down, with me it was all about the things I couldn’t do, not what I could do.
“But I remember as time went on reading about all these people, many of them a lot older than me, who were involved in the activities at SRSB, getting on with life not just sitting down and dwelling on things and it really shook me up.
“I got involved with SRSB and they gave me so much encouragement. Now I’ve done things I never dreamed of doing. I did fire walking, I walked on hot coals.
“I started doing crochet again about 4 years ago. I’ve got better magnifying glasses and I photocopy the patterns so they are larger. There are ways round it. My crochet isn’t always perfect but if I get it wrong, I get it wrong, I’ve done my best.”
Val has also discovered a new talent – for making beautiful handcrafted greetings cards. She went to classes with a friend and sat near to the teacher. “I am really chuffed I have found a new craft when I am partially-sighted. It’s not something I have adapted, I have started something new.”
The Equipment Centre at SRSB also helped Val with equipment she needs such as talking scales and a talking alarm clock. “I am so impressed with the place,” she said.
Now Val does as much as she can to help SRSB. She works for the legal firm Irwin Mitchell and began selling raffle tickets in the office. She has a collecting box on her desk and her colleagues raised hundreds of pounds with a dress down day at work.
With the help of her husband Ian, Val has also taken part in the SRSB “Sheffield Stays In" fundraiser, holding a Mr and Mrs night for their friends last year and this year a Race Night.
“Reading other people’s stories in the newsletter meant a lot to me. Now I hope other people can read my story and feel that they can achieve things too.”