Eric Harrod

Sight Support Hull & East Yorkshire

The year was 2010, I had just retired as an Optometrist/Optician after 49 years, mostly as my own boss.

By chance I saw an advert in the Hull Daily Mail for prospective Trustees for HERIB (Hull & East Riding Institute for the Blind) on Beverley Road in Hull.

I felt the desire to put something back into society and having spoken to several charity workers I replied to the advert. After being interviewed and appointed I found myself elected as Chairman after just a few weeks, there being an apparent void in leadership.

As the majority of the existing Trustees were wishing to retire I was extremely fortunate in joining the charity at the same time as other dedicated new Trustees.

The running of the regular Trustee Meetings did not present a major problem as I had some previous leadership experience.

An initial challenge was the imminent visit of Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, to the opening of a recent extension when I was expected to greet her and conduct her around the premises. Thankfully the visit went without any snags. Her Royal Highness is a wonderful ambassador for The Royal family.

One of the things I feel very proud about during my Chairmanship is being involved in interviewing and appointing the three excellent members of the current Senior Management Team, including our wonderful CEO Sandra Ackroyd. Another member of the team, Alison Stannard, has recently been awarded the British Empire Medal for her organization of the support services for the blind and partially sighted in Hull and East Riding especially during the Covid outbreak.

I was also able to encourage new Trustees to join the Board one of whom is our current Chairperson, Debbie Rosenberg.

The Board of Management, numbering 12 in total, is well balanced and includes two of our visually impaired users plus a Solicitor, Accountant, a buildings expert and a fundraiser amongst our numbers.

I have enjoyed my years on the Board immensely, especially witnessing the delight and genuine thanks expressed by our hundreds of users and being involved in the running and development of this great organisation.

Together we have managed to greatly expand the many support services available to our users including a telephone befriending group which has proved a vital contact for many visually impaired during the recent Covid pandemic.

We also oversaw a major rebrand of the charity in 2018. Our original name being rather dated and not clearly depicting our real function and purpose. We are now Sight Support Hull and East Yorkshire.

I would fully recommend becoming a Trustee to anyone who may be considering doing charitable work. It’s a great way to give back to your local community and the satisfaction gained from helping and supporting others is a wonderful reward for your services.

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