InSight Magazine – Q3 2022 Edition

Our latest edition of InSight is out now.

This edition includes:


InSight Q3 2022 Cover

Click here or the image above to read the latest edition of our InSight Magazine or click the links below to hear it recorded in an audio format:

  1. CEO’s Letter
  2. Wilberforce House – Staff Perspective
  3. Club Wilber Pizza Party
  4. Living & Learning Zone
  5. Volunteering
  6. Fundraising & Sponsorship
  7. YorSensory – Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much
  8. York Talking News Advertisement
Club Wilber Sponsors’ Music Networking Event

Before January the world of business or networking was alien to me, and I’ll admit I probably misunderstood it.  I remember Samantha asking me whether it was my thing; as a self-confessed introvert networking events, events of any kind leave me feeling anxious, vulnerable and somewhat like an imposter.  I quickly learned that there was nothing to worry about, there is no rulebook for networking events, they don’t need to happen in a certain way.  That’s why Club Wilber’s latest event intrigued me and many of the other attendees.  Awaken your senses promised to take us on a musical journey but for me it delivered so much more.

As sponsors and business representatives arrived they took a moment to take in their surroundings; the beautiful  Grade 1 listed Church of St Margaret has been converted, extended and transformed into the National Centre for Early Music.  The blinds half drawn, the flickering of the large candles, the acoustics and tone of the music echoing in the magical space spurred my senses before the event had even started.  The grand building set the intimate yet inviting scene for the day.

As we took our seats at our respective tables and met with members of our team for the day we prepared ourselves for a speech from Operations Director Samantha Scholey-Dyson.  Her recent personal experiences guided a passionate, emotive speech in which her dedication to Club Wilber and people with a visual impairment shone through.  Her reflection of the role of music in her life had already initiated discussion on my table about the event being more than just a music quiz.  It’s a well-known fact that music can lift our spirits; science has now shown it has a physical effect on our bodies, too.  As we listen, music works on the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for controlling our blood pressure and heartbeat. It also works on the limbic system, which is responsible for feelings and emotions.  By connecting us at a deeper level with each other; collectively synchronising our heart beats or brain waves, Music is a great tool for enhancing collaboration.  As Samantha spoke it was clear why music was the chosen theme, as we listen to music, our brains are activated, it changes our brain chemistry and listening to music we enjoy stimulates the release of dopamine just as listening to chilled out, calm, soothing quieter music can help to alleviate anxiety.

After my tables diabolical performance in the music quiz, we were asked to apply our eye masks.  In partnership with Dale Bartleson of YO1 radio, Samantha took us on a journey through many genres, asking us to explore music and how different genres made us feel.  What song makes you want to dance like no-one is watching?  What song instantly makes you sad?  What is your favourite song?  Now, I admit I am a huge fan of music across many genres and generations but my initial thought when posed with these questions was how much attention am I paying to the music that often surrounds me?  There are certain songs, certain artists and definitely certain lyrics I can remember but I couldn’t seem to put pen to paper when it came to answering these questions.  It led me to thinking about how we take music for granted, distracted by the feedback from all our other senses.

Acapella: defined as ‘music performed without instrumental accompaniment’ was pitched up against instrumental ‘music performed on instruments without vocals’.  To explore the differences might be obvious but both genres spurred really emotion within me.  The atmosphere in the room was a perfect platform to encourage me to focus on and listen to the lyrics in the acapella songs, conversely to allow my imagination to build lyrics or pictures during the instrumental.  Some people would argue that vocal music can tell stories but how invigorating it was to create my own story during the instrumental; not the point that I was imagining Russell Crowe in Gladiator!

Wilber the Mole at the Club Wilber Sponsor Music Networking Event

Its hard to define what motivational music sounds like; the songs played under this context led me to wonder ‘What music motivates me?’, I concluded that its all about perspective, the lyrics in these songs because the atmosphere created prompted us to focus more on the music.  Much like the reflective songs, led me to think about how easy it is to get caught up in the day to day strains life, while we’re so busy we forget how important reflection is.  I learned that reflective songs to me, are those that stop you in your tracks and spur your mind into reminiscence and imagination.

Next up was happy vs sad, self-explanatory you’d think but the story of my sad song often amazes people.  Jackie Wilson’s ‘Reet Petite’ has always been one of those songs everybody likes to get up and dance to, but it will always be the song that was played at my best friends funeral. What I loved the most about this event was how these discussions came around our table, we all agreed that during the happy songs we wanted to get up and dance, feeling or visualising clapping or swaying, dancing along to the music.  When my team discussed this stage of the journey they began to ask themselves, and me how people without sight are able to collect the type of visual experiences we were enjoying?

Dance music, Ultrabeat especially took me and likely many others straight back to Ibiza, remembering long nights with sore feet making memories.  New Age music is intended to create inspiration and optimism.  Often used in mindfulness, meditation and yoga it showcases music as a spiritual experience and much like instrumental music I found myself creating my own story.  Being driven to listen to music without lyrics was one of the most enlightening experiences of my day, the magic of healing music is the perfect form of stress relief.

As if we hadn’t been on a musical rollercoaster the last songs were sad love (the heartbreak kind) vs happy love (I need you kind).  By the end of these songs I was left thinking ‘How many emotions can music make you feel?’  The sad songs acted as a stabiliser, prompting reflection and nostalgia but also thankfulness for the memories behind the emotional response.  Much in the same way the happy ones prompting gratefulness for everything I have today.


I wanted to write my experiences of this event; every day since I have listened to music differently.  I have immersed myself in it rather than be distracted by it.  Alan Cowen once said ‘Music is a universal language, but we don’t always pay enough attention to what it’s saying and how it’s being understood.’  This quote is my big takeaway from my musical journey.  Music on the whole can be a reaction to experiences but for people with sensory impairments it can be so much more, and I can see why Samantha chose music as a theme.  Next time you’re listening to music why don’t you don an eye mask and see how different it makes you feel?

I would like to pass on my thanks to Samantha and Dale especially, also Owen Turner, Rey & Cara of United By Design, Michelle Mook of Pro-Development, Samantha Walton of Acomb Travel, Louise Saw of City of York Council, Tom Jackson of Jackson Photography for a thought provoking, inspiring afternoon that managed to raise awareness of the brilliant work of Club Wilber and the Wilberforce Trust. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and can’t wait for the next one!

Lauren Holmes Sensory Business Manager


Would you like to sponsor the amazing work that Club Wilber does and join our unique networking events?  Take a look at our ‘Sponsor Club Wilber‘ page.

Club Wilber – Easter Egg Hunt 2022

Our Club Wilber Easter Egg hunt returned this year after the hiatus imposed by COVID19 restrictions.

The field was decorated with numerous egg hunting inspired decorations including hampers, baskets, signs, wind spinners, flowers, chicks, even a tipi and lots and lots of hay.

We hid the beeping eggs amongst the decorations, along with lots of chocolate treats and sweets ready for the children to find using their hearing.

The sun was shining, the decorations were in position, the eggs were hidden and then the Club Wilber families arrived, excited, happy and ready for a wonderful activity.

Each child put on some bunny ears and set off with basket in hand listening out for the beep of the eggs.  As always siblings could take part by wearing blindfolds.  Families were able to lay out their picnic blankets and join together for some Easter themed refreshments and enjoy time chatting and supporting one another.

After filling their baskets the children returned to exchange beeping eggs for chocolate Easter eggs to take home along with the treats they had found along the way.

We had some fabulous feedback from the families:

“It was definitely engaging. My child quickly got to grips with everything and it kept his interest for a good amount of time.  He loved the buzzing eggs”

“The atmosphere was great and you’ve managed to get such a lovely weather!  My child liked that there were eggs of different sizes – made it more interesting”

“Brought all the families together, lots of choc, you ordered the weather”

“Thank you for a fabulous egg hunt today, we loved it!!  And thank you for being thoughtful as always …”

“Thank you for today, kids loved it”

“Thank you for the lovely time today!  It was really eggciting!”

We couldn’t have run this event without the support of our volunteers who kindly donated their time on the day to setting up and running the event with us and for that we would like to say a HUGE thank you.

We also want to say a HUGE thank you to the following companies that donated to help us run this amazing event:

We will be back again next year with the Easter Egg hunt and look forward to seeing this event grow.

We also have a whole programme of different activities for Club Wilber so if you have, or know of a child 0-25 who has a visual impairment please get in touch at [email protected].

Similarly if you would like to help us run more activities by joining as a volunteer, then please do get in touch at [email protected] as we would love to welcome you to our work family.

Meet Club Wilber’s Latest Sponsor – 360 Chartered Accountants

360 Chartered Accountants couldn’t be more different to the image of a typical, ‘boring’ accountancy firm.  Their success lies in a willingness to remain agile as a practice in an ever-changing financial and business climate.  They are 21st century accountants embracing modern technology to give their clients every advantage. Innovative and forward thinking, they have invested in IT and modern technology to simplify and speed up accountancy processes, so that clients can view real-time accounts in a secure cloud environment at any time of the day or night, which in turn allows them to make better, more informed decisions based on up-to-the minute figures.

The award-winning firm has a developing portfolio of clients in and around York and has recently opened an office at Blake House in the heart of the city.

Managing Director, Adrian Hunter said:

“There is a fantastic and continually growing business economy here and we know that our services are a perfect fit for so many business owners who have been hit hard over the last couple of years.  We worked throughout the pandemic, offering advice and support to anyone who needed it, clients, and non-clients.  We guided them through the various government grant systems and helped our clients claim nearly £10 million in furlough payments across all sectors.  There’s also been some great innovation and we have helped businesses adapt to the changing climate.  We understand what people have been through and are still going through and we can’t wait to start sharing our knowledge and expertise with even more businesses across York.”

Regarding Club Wilber, Adrian added:

“We are thrilled to be working with Samantha and the team at Club Wilber and are looking forward to assisting this amazing charity in any way we can.  It is plain for all to see how much the team at Club Wilber enhance the lives of children throughout York and the surrounding areas and we are excited about the future journey with them.”

For more information about 360 Chartered Accountants, please contact [email protected] or call 01904 217360.

InSight Magazine – Q2 2022 Edition

Our latest edition of InSight is out now.

This edition includes:


Click here or the image above to read the latest edition of our InSight Magazine.

Welcome to our Activities and Events Manager

Ellen and her team will be organising activities and events for the Learning and Living Zone and Club Wilber, looking after our amazing volunteers and overseeing our much needed fundraising.

Hello, my name is Ellen Harding.  Originally from West Yorkshire, I joined the Navy in 1991 and spent 16 years as a sailor!  Working on ships and ashore and I also was lucky enough to spend some time in the Falkland Islands. I then moved to New Zealand with my family for 8 years and I am now a dual national.  I have a huge passion for travelling (as you might guess) and have visited more than 30 different countries! On a weekend you will find me in my workshop with my toolbox out or covered in paint as I am an avid maker and crafter and I love nothing more than to make something special out of an old piece of furniture.

I wanted to work for Wilberforce Trust because I have been a volunteer all my life and have been looking for a role in the third sector for some years.  I am so rewarded when I have the opportunity to help people and I knew that I had the energy, enthusiasm and empathy to put into a role working with a charity.

I was attracted to the Activities and Events Manager role because of my background previous experiences.  I have been a Brownie Guider for 25 years putting together programmes for the different groups I have worked with. Seeing the smiles and laughter of enjoyment from these children gave me such motivation.  I worked with disabled children in some of my groups and it was interesting to see how the others empathised and were happy to work on the adapted activities. Plus, I am a born organiser with a lot of experience putting events together and rallying volunteers.  It is such a privilege to work with The Wilberforce Trust and I feel like a jigsaw piece that has finally slotted into place.

We are always on the lookout for volunteers to help with our events and activities.  If you have never volunteered before you should give it a try – the rewards are amazing. Volunteering can help you gain confidence by giving you the chance to try something new and build a real sense of achievement. You will be making a difference, meeting people, learning some new skills and best of all having fun!

Interested in volunteering?  Click here!

Club Wilber 2 Years On – Impact Report

We can’t believe how fast two years have gone, but with Club Wilber’s 2nd birthday it’s time to take a look back on everything we have achieved.

Take a look at our Impact Report to see how we and the Club Wilber families coped during COVID19 with online activities.  Read about our virtual scavenger hunts and an online Christmas.  Meet some of our families and our local sporting celebrity ambassador Will Jubb.  See a whole raft of photos and highlights of some of the great activities we’ve been enjoying together.

Read the report here.

Interested in supporting a great cause?  Support Club Wilber and get invited to our great networking events, we promise they’ll be something special and more fun than your typical networking.  Read more in the impact report and when you decide you can’t bear the FOMO (fear of missing out) sign up here.

Here’s a spoiler from the report some quotes from the Club Wilber families:

“Club Wilber is our VIP family where people just get it.”

“Club Wilber is an extension of our family, providing us with experiences and a sense of belonging with families that understand.”

“My daughter’s brother was amazed when he saw the other children with canes like his sister; it has been great for him to see and understand VI a little more and to meet other siblings and make friends.”

“Amazing people that run an amazing club giving families the opportunity to participate and enjoy activities together.”

“It is a big part of our lives & we rely on them for information about how to support our daughter.”

“We are extremely grateful for all that Club Wilber have done & continue to do. We have found out lots of information & taken part in lovely activities, with both our daughter & her brother, thank you.”

Club Wilber – Our day with Wetwheels Yorkshire!

At the end of October half term, our Club Wilber families were fortunate to experience the joy of being out on the sea with the wonderful charity, Wetwheels.

Starting the day grateful for some glorious sunshine (unseasonably good weather for October!), the families gathered together at the marina in the centre of Whitby. You could see a mixture of excitement and apprehension on their faces.

‘Wetwheels provides the unique opportunity for all disabled people, including those with profound and complex disabilities, to access the sea in a safe, stimulating and rewarding way on board specially-built, fully-accessible powerboats.’

The Wetwheels trip was around an hour and a half which gives time for the families on board to soak up that salty sea smell, feel the breeze in their hair, and hear the roar of the engine, the sea gulls and the waves crashing against the boat. They even get a go at steering the boat!

At Club Wilber we organise activities for children and young people with a visual impairment so we are always on the look-out for unique sensory experiences we can offer to the families we support. Wetwheels certainly does this and is an opportunity for the families to experience something they wouldn’t necessarily have access to otherwise.

One parent said of the trip, “It was very engaging because it’s a very unusual experience!”. Another said, “My child was lucky to try driving the boat.
She was very excited and very proud of herself.”

We have organised a few trips with Wetwheels, and they have delivered every time! Peter Richardson (chairman) is great through all the planning process. Peter and his team have such a clear passion for what they do, and we always receive praise for them in feedback. One of our parents said of the team, “They were really nice and friendly. They made an effort to remember our names and were really encouraging and patient.”

At the end of the trip, any signs of apprehension on the families’ faces were long gone, there was no other emotion to see than pure joy! When asked how Wetwheels could improve the only answer we were given was “It was perfect”.  A seal was even spotted in the harbour!

Thank you to Peter and the team at Wetwheels Yorkshire! Our families love the trips with you, and we look forward to stepping back on board very soon!

InSight Magazine – Winter 2021 Edition

Our new Winter 2021 edition of Insight is out now!

This edition includes:

Click the image above to read the latest edition of our Insight Magazine.