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Eliza Harrison Wreath Laying

Photo of Steve Hambleton placing the wreath on Eliza's grave

On the 1st of December 2021, representatives from the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB) visited Wadsley Church to lay a wreath on the grave of our founder, Eliza Harrison, to recognise her commitment to our cause over 160 years ago.

SRSB will commence a year of heritage awareness raising activities in the city in 2022…. more details to follow in the new year.

Photo of group standing beside Eliza's grave

Our long history in Sheffield began when two local sisters, Ann and Eliza Harrison became involved. Ann and her sister Eliza Harrison were the daughters of local manufacturer, Thomas Harrison, who built Weston House, surrounded by about 12 acres of land where he and his daughters lived. This was later bought by the city for use as a museum and public park, which we now know as Weston Park Museum.

When Mr Harrison died in 1818 he left his fortune to his two daughters who immediately applied this to charity work.

In the late 1850s a small group of women supported a local blind school, meeting twice a week to read with the pupils by means of raised letters. Our founder, Eliza Harrison took a lively interest in the school.

Following the death of Ann in 1858, Eliza 'remembered her sister’s particular interest in, and sympathy for, blind people'. One year later, she founded the Blind Institution with a small committee of women who devised a plan. The object of Miss Harrison and her committee was: to instruct blind people in trades that would help them in employment and enable them to earn their livelihoods.

This was the real foundation of the organisation from which the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB) has grown.

Eliza lived long enough to see her brain-child develop into a secure and promising Institution. She passed away in 1873 and was buried in Wadsley churchyard along with her sister. Sheffield mourned the loss of a ‘most generous soul and great social worker’.

In attendance at the wreath laying was Steve Hambleton, SRSB’s General Manager, who is due to retire at the end of 2021 and who has played a major part in the development of the charity over the last 21 years, Joanne Ardern SRSB’s Deputy General Manager who will take over from Steve in 2022, Richard Frost SRSB’s Chair of Trustees Amy and Carol who are both clients of SRSB as it is today and Steve Loane SRSB’s Fundraising Manager. 

The group reflected on the role that Eliza played in our charity, even though it was over 160 years ago, and how they wouldn’t be standing there that day if it hadn’t been for her vision and generosity.

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Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind links