Welsh acting Royalty, Ruth Madoc was joined by rugby legend Gareth Edwards and the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Cllr Margaret Jones at a celebration to mark the milestone 150th anniversary of one of Wales’ oldest charities.
As President and Patron of Cardiff Institute for the Blind (CIB), Gareth and Ruth joined staff and service users at a music-filled afternoon of entertainment – one of a number of celebratory activities under the banner of a ‘Sense of Wales’ campaign that is being organised in conjunction with the anniversary.
Guests were treated to a performance from UCAN Productions – an arts-based cooperative for visually impaired children and young people– as well as several upbeat numbers from CIB’s own choir and an informal Q&A with Ruth herself who was happy to share tales of her long and illustrious career on stage and screen.
The Lord Mayor also spoke of her great pleasure in being able to contribute to such an important occasion, praising the vital support, inspiration and friendship the charity provides.
Speaking about her own involvement with Cardiff Institute for the Blind, Ruth Madoc said:
“Sight loss and visual impairment are issues close to my heart as my own father suffered with severe glaucoma and I saw first hand how it impacted on his life.
“I was delighted to be asked to be a Patron of this marvellous charity, which for 150 years has been a source of both practical and emotional help and guidance for those dealing with all forms of visual impairment.
“The opening of brand new headquarters last year has given CIB a whole new lease of life – the charity is not just surviving but thriving and I always enjoy my visits here and meeting those making use of the top class facilities now at their disposal.
“I’m a firm believer that out of disability comes strength and staff and volunteers work tirelessly to support thousands of people across Wales – I’m delighted to be a part of that and look forward to many more years’ involvement with this great organisation.”
With its heritage dating back to 1865, Cardiff Institute for the Blind came into being when Frances Batty Shand – the daughter of a Jamaican plantation owner who moved to Cardiff following the death of her father – opened a small workshop in the Canton area of the city; employing four blind men to make baskets for the coal ships sailing from Cardiff.
From these small beginnings, the charity has grown with the times as attitudes positively changed and as part of the RNIB Group, provides a lifelong support network to help blind and partially sighted people enjoy fulfilled lives. Its services include providing emotional support when people have been diagnosed with sight loss, IT training so people can maintain or gain employment, social clubs, advice on specialist products to aid daily living and workshops on topics such as cooking, shopping, transport and managing money.
Speaking about the charity’s 150th celebrations, CIB Director of Operations Kieran Harris said:
“It’s a really big year for us and a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on the work of the charity, which has certainly come a long way since its humble beginnings 150 years ago!
“We’re very grateful for all the support the charity gets and really want to use the anniversary to thank our current supporters, dedicated staff and volunteers – which is exactly what this particular event was all about – and I’d like to thank all our guests for taking the time to join us.
“It is also a chance to reach out to people who may not know a great deal about the work we do because we know we can make a very real and profound difference to people’s lives.”
CIB staff with The Lord Mayor of Cardiff and Consort and patron Ruth Madoc.
CIB’s Singing Group close the show with two songs.
Mared Jarman from UCAN Productions wows the crowd with her delightful voice.
The Lord Mayor and Ruth Madoc enjoying the Singing Group performance.
Chair of the Board, Sally Harvey, welcomes our service-users, volunteers, partners and VIP guests.
President Gareth Edwards and patron Ruth Madoc outside CIB’s headquarters on Womanby Street.