DAME JUDI DENCH – PATRON
We are very fortunate to have Dame Judi Dench as our Patron. Born in York, Judi has garnered every acting award it is possible to receive at least once with an Oscar and 6 BAFTAs to her name just for starters.
Dame Judi understands all too well the challenge of sight loss as she is living with age-related macular degeneration which has caused her to stop driving and curtail other activities.
Dame Judi says “Our Living and Learning Zone enables people with sight and hearing loss to recognize that life can still be fun, enriching and fulfilling. With this in mind, I wholeheartedly endorse the Wilberforce Trust’s vision for the future”
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE – AMBASSADOR
In February of this year, 2020, we were thrilled to discover that the great, great, great, great-grandson of William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery campaigner, was willing to become an Ambassador for the Trust.
To have an association with the descendant of the man we are named in honour of, was a huge privilege and we went to meet him at his beautiful home, Markington Hall, near Ripon in North Yorkshire. This estate passed to the Wilberforce family in 1733 and William and his wife Julie look after its upkeep whilst allocating space for weddings and glamping breaks.
His home still contains many souvenirs of the great man including a portrait, a cameo containing a lock of his hair and an iron box made from a slave’s manacles given to him in thanks. William was able to attend the launch of our Club Wilber project and had offered his home for an event which we are hoping to organise once the threat of Covid19 has passed.
We hope to be able to organise a fundraising event at Markington Hall when conditions allow.
HOLLY TUKE – AMBASSADOR
My name is Holly Tuke and I’m the author of the blog Life of a Blind Girl, I became an Ambassador for the Wilberforce Trust back in April 2019.
When I was asked if I would consider becoming an Ambassador, I knew that it was something that I wanted to do straight away. I’ve been involved with the charity for years, I started off my volunteering journey at the Wilberforce Trust when I was a teenager as I taught braille to other blind and visually impaired people and also did some work experience when I was at school. I’ve tried to stay up-to-date with the charity ever since and it’s wonderful to have seen it grow into what it is today, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.
I feel very honoured and humbled to be an Ambassador for a local charity that I have been involved in for years. Having a vision impairment myself means that I know how vital the services are that they offer and what an impact they can have on disabled people’s lives.
I wanted to become an Ambassador because I have a passion for helping others, raising awareness on vision impairment and disability, tackle some of the common misconceptions surrounding sight loss and disability but most of all, I want other blind and vision-impaired people to know that they can achieve their goals despite having a disability.
I also want to promote the positives that having a vision impairment can have on your life, people are often so caught up on the negatives that things such as learning unique skills and being part of the sight loss community are sometimes overlooked. Through my role as an Ambassador, I hope to encourage people to strive to achieve their goals and view their vision impairment in a positive way.
I can’t wait to see where my role as Ambassador will take me and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.
GEORGIE MORRELL – AMBASSADOR
Georgie Morrell has glaucoma and has lost the sight in one eye. She is a stand-up comedian and award-nominated actor. Her stand up shows “A Poke in the Eye” and “Eye-Con” has received 4* reviews, Edinburgh Fringe runs and toured the UK.
She has appeared at the York Comedy Fringe for 2 years running and we hope to welcome her back again next year.
Georgie is currently working on the BFI funded film Blind Ambition with Silver salt Films and can be found gigging up and down the UK. Follow her @TheGMorrell.
” Inspirational…a seat on Graham Norton’s sofa surely awaits.”
★★★★ 1/2 The Reviews Hub
“Engrossing…highly entertaining and well worth seeing.”
“Riotous, unapologetic and side-splittingly funny, Morrell pours fuel onto the fire, and sets disability taboos alight.”
★★★★ Disability Arts Online
ABBIE ROBINSON – AMBASSADOR
Abbie Robinson comes from a family who love Scouting so adventures outdoors come naturally to her. She has loved climbing since the age of 5 but during her teenage year’s problems with her sight began affecting her ability to climb. At the age of 17, she was finally given a correct diagnosis of Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy.
A form of sight loss which causes a reduction in central detailed vision affecting the individual’s ability to see what is directly ahead and also impacts on reading and writing.
Undeterred by this diagnosis, Abbie, who is currently studying digital media at Leeds University, became a GB Para-climber and in 2018 became World Champion in her category. We are so proud to have a gold medallist as an Ambassador for the Trust.
Abbie knows what it is like to deal with people’s stereotyped views of what blindness means. She uses a white cane when travelling or in a strange place and people tell her “you don’t look blind”. What should a blind person look like?
We believe that people like Abbie are fantastic role models as they show how it is possible to live the life you want to live whatever your disability.
Creating more awareness about the kind of help and support people with vision impairments actually need is what our rehab team do every day.
Our goal is to enable people with sight loss or other sensory impairments to live fulfilling, independent lives. Paraclimbing is an International Paralympic Committee recognized sport and they are hoping to qualify for the 2028 Olympics when it will be held in Los Angeles where no doubt Abbie will add to her medal haul.
Welcome aboard Abbie!
NIGEL LIMB “BLIND BLOKE RACING” – AMBASSADOR
Nigel Limb was racing on Mablethorpe Beach back in December 2015 when he crashed and was left in a coma after his head swelled to twice its size.
His wife was told that an MRI scan had revealed that Nigel had severe brain damage and would most likely die from his injuries within the next few days or be left in a vegetative state. The consultant requested permission to turn off his life support machine and his wife asked if it could be left on over the weekend while she got ready to say goodbye.
Then, on Monday, he woke up. The crash had caused major sight loss and Nigel had to face the loss of his business running a garage and as a floating MOT Tester. There were some tough times ahead. Despite his sight loss, you couldn’t keep Nigel off a bike for long. He had the skill, he had the muscle memory and when Scunthorpe Speedway invited him to get back on a bike he completed six laps to tremendous applause.
For the Wilberforce Trust, Nigel is an amazing Ambassador. He is living proof that life doesn’t end when you lose your sight. It doesn’t have to mean the end of your hopes and dreams and your passion for your favourite hobby. With the right support and adaptation, life can still be full of fun and happiness as well as the challenges and frustrations that come with any disability.
Now known as the “Blind Bloke Racing” Nigel has made a documentary with his wife Julie about their experience and he has appeared at different biker’s events telling his story. We have found the biker community to be a generous and warm-hearted bunch of people who love nothing more than to talk bikes and now we have Nigel on board we hope that next year’s Bike Show will be even bigger. Being a fantastic role model for visually impaired people was never Nigel’s plan but he has shown by his example, his courage and his determination that he can bring hope to other people facing sight loss.
ANDREW DUNN AND ANDRINA CARROLL – AMBASSADOR
York actors, Andrew Dunn and Andrina Carroll were the first to agree to be Ambassadors for the Trust in 2018 when we launched our Ambassador programme.
Andrew has had many TV roles including Tony in Dinner Ladies and roles in Coronation Street, the Bill, Bremner, Bird and Fortune and many other film and TV roles.
Andrina has appeared in Emmerdale, films such as “Between Two Women” and many stage roles.
They say “We are delighted to see the Wilberforce Trust creating such an amazing facility in our City. This will be a unique resource for people with sight and hearing loss and we are happy to offer our support”