In support of Wiltshire Sight’s 100th Anniversary – and a concert we are hosting with them in January - Lady Lansdowne joined seven members of the UVI on 6th December to learn more about what it might be like to be blind and to train as sighted guides so that they can support our guests at our upcoming concert.

With the guidance of Wiltshire Sight, the girls and Lady Lansdowne were given goggles to wear to reduce and restrict their sight by various degrees so that they experienced, first hand, what it would be like to suffer from conditions such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy amongst others. They were then given blindfolds and took it in turns to guide each other around the school, negotiating steps, corners and doors! One of the girls commented that they walk the corridors daily, and it wasn’t until they were blind-folded that she realised how little she knew that route.

Lady Lansdowne said: “It was a very humbling experience to spend time with the Sixth Form girls doing the blind guiding session with Wiltshire Sight. The girls initial wariness soon dissipated and they all embraced the concepts very quickly. Being blindfold and completely reliant on a guider was an unnerving prospect but the confidence shown by the girls once they knew the basics, was remarkable. It was a valuable session and I know this team of girls will be confident to help any visually impaired guests who attend the Derek Paravicini concert. Thank you to Maggie and Laura from Wiltshire Sight for their sensitive training and deep understanding of the needs for the visually impaired. ”

Formed after the 1st World War, Wiltshire Sight is an independent charity supporting people living with sight loss in Wiltshire and Swindon. They assist more than 2,500 people of all ages, as well as their families and carers.

St Mary’s Calne are hosting a fundraising concert on Friday 19th January 2018 featuring the extraordinary pianist Derek Paravicini. Born blind and autistic, Derek plays entirely by ear, having a repertoire of many thousands of pieces in every genre. He and his quartet have kindly agreed to play for us and to accompany the finalists for the Sir Bryn Terfel’s Song Prize for a truly memorable evening. Tickets are £35, including interval refreshments, and can be bought here.