This year, we were again privileged to have been invited into the Lord Mayor’s home for our annual Civic Dinner. Both Sheriffs were in attendance and Alderman Ian Luder (Lord Mayor 2008-09) represented the Lord Mayor.
It was a truly spectacular occasion, beginning with the admission of 5 new Freemen and a champagne reception. Moving into the imposing Egyptian Hall at Mansion House we were treated to a delicious formal dinner and various Guild traditions such as The Loving Cup ceremony.
Our principle guest for the evening was Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE, the Chief Executive of the RNIB Royal National Institute of Blind People. Lesley Delivered a truly enlightening speech highlighting the struggles blind people face in the UK today and how her organisation is trying to improve the situation for them.
Did you know;-
- Blindness in the UK is a real challenge with 2 million people suffering from a serious sight issue.
100 people every day are told they are going to lose their sight
- Only 7% of printed materials are available in audio or braille
- Blind children achieve only half of the qualifications of their sighted peers
- Only 27% of blind people of working age have a job
- Producing 1 million pages of braille per year
- Being the largest lending library in the country for talking books – distributing 40,000 per week –
- Receiving 1500 helpline calls each day
- Supporting Care Homes, Schools and a Children’s Homes
- campaigning to influence government and decision makers
In addition there are a number of less common activities that the RNIB are involved in, namely:-
- working with an American technology company to produce an affordable Braille Laptop
- running the RNIB Connect Radio station (Channel 730 on your TV)
- being world leaders in synthetic speech and advising software companies such as Microsoft, Samsung and Apple
- Running an RNIB Apprenticeship scheme
Lesley concluded by saying “Gone are the days when blind people are expected to become telephonists, piano tuners or lathe turners. We are now living in an age where blind people are developing great careers and in the last week alone I have met a blind chef, a partially sighted management consultant and a Paralympic medalist who is now much in demand as a motivational speaker. The common bond for all of these people is their sprit of determination, their hard work, their ability to take risks and their commitment to their businesses. I think that makes them entrepreneurs.”
A fabulous evening was had by all!