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SRSB History Story

Photo of Mr  and Mrs Coyle

There are many stories from the 160 year history of SRSB, and interestingly, this memory was sparked when the charity shared a post on Facebook about a storyline on ‘Call the Midwife’ earlier this year. The story prompted Danny Coyle to tell his family’s story.  

Danny’s parents were both clients of SRSB and he is one of their three sons. After he watched the programme, which featured a story about a young blind mother in the 1960s he said, “I can honestly say I wept tears of joy and tears of sadness, it was so true to life.” 

Jim and Ruth were both blind and they met at the Sharrow Lane workshops, then they married in 1952. When they had their first son a couple of years later, they were told that they couldn’t keep him because they couldn’t care for him properly. Jim and Ruth were fuming! It was at this stage that SRSB stepped in and moved them from private accommodation to a house that was specially adapted for blind people with children (SRSB’s Overend Cottages in Crosspool).  

When Danny arrived in 1955 they faced the same challenge again, as social services said that they couldn’t manage with two children. Luckily they had a formidable ally in a local doctor who fought their corner. Then in 1962 when their last son came along it all happened again, but the same doctor, along with a local councillor ensured that the family stayed together. This was all a struggle, but the Coyles and their support network were a force to be reckoned with! 

Danny recalls his happy childhood at Overend Cottages “Mum and Dad did us proud. It was tight but we never wanted for anything and everything was done with a smile.”

Overend is situated next to Cairn Home which is SRSB’s care home in Crosspool and both properties are still run by SRSB today. Cairn specialises in care for elderly people with sight loss, and Overend Cottages are rented to people with sight loss who live independently.

After Jim passed away, Ruth eventually moved into Cairn Home, until she also sadly passed away just before her 92nd birthday. Danny says “Mum died happy, and I would like to thank each and every member of the Cairn Home team who made my Mums life so, so happy she loved every one of them unconditionally especially Sarah, and the Manager Kevin.”

SRSB has been working on behalf of blind and partially sighted people for 160 years in Sept 2020 and this story illustrates just one of the Sheffield families that they have supported throughout their lives. The charity is collecting memories from their long history with Sheffield, and anyone who would like to contribute they can contact    

SRSB is also holding an online event on their anniversary (17th Sept) as part of Heritage Open Days. There will be an online virtual tour of SRSB’s 160 year history with Sheffield and a virtual Q&A session too. More information can be found on the Heritage Open Days website.
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Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind links