Recently I’ve met members in Exeter (South Devon), Portsmouth (Hampshire), Barnstaple (North Devon), Croydon (London) and Devizes (Wiltshire). I really need to develop a footprint map. I think it would look very funny.
The reason I went to Exeter and Barnstaple, was to speak to a group of wonderful people who were attending the Living with Sight Loss course, run by Action for Blind People. Both groups had a demonstration of Famous Teddy Bears which has tactile images of Paddington and Aloysius. The audio is read by actors, including Julian Fellowes, Derek Jacobi and Stephen Fry. Everyone loved it, even though at first some people thought it was just going to be about a soft toy. They very much enjoyed the clear and informative script describing the story behind a famous bear, which is very entertaining. Poor Aloysius sat on a shelf for more than 50 years until he was re-homed.
The Touch to See Book Club (T2C) which meets in Croydon enjoyed the Cat in a Cottage Window, by Ralph Headley, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne (Tyne and Wear Museum). Ralph was a realist painter, woodcarver and illustrator, best known for his paintings portraying scenes of everyday life in the North East of England.
The Croydon T2C has been running for 20 years. Claire White, who is blind herself, has run the Club since it started up. They meet in Croydon Vision Centre in Wellesley Road. They currently have 10 members and one volunteer supporting Claire.
At every meeting they have a number of crossword puzzles and a maths quiz. Members said to me that by incorporating puzzles and quizzes into their sessions it helped them to stay active and got them thinking. I felt so welcomed.
When I asked everyone what they thought of the Touch to See books they said “The Book Club books introduce other subjects too, not just classical art which is great as it appeals to more of us. Some are easier, some more complex. We talked a lot about the ‘What’s Cooking pack’, and we particularly enjoyed ‘At the Theatre’ but our all time favourite is ‘A Walk Along the Riverbank’. The descriptions and sounds are so clear, really marvellous. We can’t believe that the Touch to See Book Club books are free.”
The best thing about my job is listening to people’s laughter, banter, stories and experiences. The feeling you get when you sit in as a member of a Club is of belonging and security. You know that no matter what, everyone is there for you. It is so comforting that if you could bottle it up and sell it you would be a millionaire!
If you have any feedback on any of our titles or have any stories from your group please give me a call on 01635 299771. I would love to chat with you.