I was born with Cataracts, underwent many operations, developed Nystagmus and a few other bits. I am registered blind but with some useful vision. I trained as a teacher, worked mainstream then special schools and became a Qualified Teacher of the Visually Impaired. I was also an Education Officer with RNIB.
I know the problems VI causes but also know it is not the end of the world and can, in fact, provide new opportunities. I am looking forward to working with everyone at Southampton sight to support others to make the most of living with sight loss.
In 1994 I started as a volunteer trustee, with Southampton Sight and I am really pleased to be involved with this organization. I lost my sight totally in 1983 due to an accident so have had to make that journey personally, adjusting how I live my life to the full to accommodate blindness.
I have had many wonderful experiences and achievements, including running the London Marathon twice, climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge, cycling and mountain climbing, all to raise money for various charities. I was especially proud to carry the Paralympic torch for the 2012 Paralympic Games.
I am employed as a manager with the Macular Society, where I have worked for since May 2008.
My constant companion is Brunel, my guide dog. He is very special as he won the “Outstanding Work” Guide Dog award in 2012.
I have worked with Southampton Sight for quite a few years and the last 5 years I’ve been a trustee. I’m responsible for Health and Safety matters and twice a year, when the clocks change, it’s my job to reset all the talking watches! When I first came to Southampton Sight I had been through a very low time suffering with depression. I was unemployed and although I don’t have a sight impairment myself I was sent here as part of a volunteer placement. All I can say is working here has changed my life. I felt valued and useful as I could use my skills to benefit the charity and in turn went through a healing time myself. I have since gone on to get a job in another region but it’s important to me to keep a strong connection with Southampton Sight by being involved as a trustee.
Lieke Van Putten