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160th Anniversary Dinner

Photo of guests sitting at tables listening to one of the speakers

SRSB marks 160 years of working with blind people in Sheffield

Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB) marked a significant milestone on 17th September 2021 by holding a celebration dinner in the beautiful setting of Weston Park Museum. 
The dinner should have been held in 2020 which was our 160th Anniversary, but had to be postponed due to Covid. So we rearranged the event and it finally took place on Friday 17th September, exactly 161 years to the day since we were founded.

The choice of venue at Weston Park interestingly took our charity back to our roots, as our founder Eliza Harrison used to live in Weston House, a private house that stood where the museum is today, in the grounds that are now the park.

Our guest list of over 125 people included the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, the Master Cutler and Richard Caborn, who all spoke at the event along with SRSB’s General Manager Steve Hambleton. Other guests included clients of the charity, volunteers, staff and many supporters from other organisations and groups in South Yorkshire, along with other individual supporters.

Our charity has been supporting people with sight loss in Sheffield for 161 years and has occupied several sites in the city, with our centre now on Mappin Street and our care home situated in Crosspool. In 2017 we also achieved our ambition to open a centre in Rotherham. 

Sight loss can of course be devastating, and many people spend a period of time grieving, adapting and then eventually accepting this journey and its challenges. SRSB has supported people to do this for over 160 years and will continue to do so in to the future. They have witnessed the transformation and growth of so many of their clients and their passion for offering support, friendship and services still rises to meet their current requirements. Several of our staff and Trustees have sight and/or hearing loss as do many of our volunteers and group facilitators. 

Our charity has survived by being able to adapt to many challenges along the way, and 2020/2021 brought significant adaptations for everyone following the pandemic. Our teams and volunteers have navigated their way through the constant changes to continue to support their clients within the guidelines, delivering services and support online, by post, over the phone, at outdoor activities and, when restrictions allowed, with in person appointments where possible. We are currently adapting back by introducing small groups and activities.

Steve Hambleton, our General Manager announced at the dinner that he is to retire from SRSB at the end of year after 21 years of dedicated service to our charity, and introduced his successor Joanne Ardern, currently the Deputy General Manager.
Steve says “It has been a great honour and privilege to lead such a fantastic organisation and team of people through many projects over the last 21 years. There have been plenty of challenges along the way, including the complete rebuild of our Mappin Street Centre which we moved back to in 2009. More recently of course, throughout the last 18 months or so with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Hopefully, by the time I retire, the charity will be back to some semblance of normality. I will be very sad to leave but I will be leaving with many happy memories created by all the wonderful clients, volunteers and staff I have met over the time I have been here.”
Guests at the dinner also had the opportunity to look around the museum and were later entertained by singer Paul Pashley. It was a great atmosphere in the beautiful surroundings of Weston Park Museum.

SRSB and RSS provide opportunity, support, friendship and services to people with sight and/or hearing loss in Sheffield City Region, helping them to achieve whatever they wish to do and whatever they aspire to be.

If you would like to find out more, please contact us on info@srsb.org.uk or 0114 272 2757 in Sheffield, and 01709 722 420 in Rotherham.
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