Thank you to everyone who attended the Fighting Blindness Annual General Meeting in the Ashling Hotel, Dublin on Saturday. We were delighted to catch up with old friends and welcome new members as we discussed the events of 2015 and shared our plans for the year ahead. As a patient-led organisation our members are central to the work that we do and we take our lead from our members when planning our work, the AGM is a vital part of that.
The AGM began at 12:30pm with a light lunch. This was followed by a welcome address from Kevin Bowers, Fighting Blindness Chairperson, who also introduced Kevin Whelan, the new Chief Executive of the organisation. Then commenced the Business Meeting where the Minutes of the 2015 AGM, the Financial Report, Report of the Directors and the Statement of Accounts and Balance Sheet were presented to the members to vote on.
Next up was the Organisation Update. This featured updates from Fighting Blindness staff about research, counselling, advocacy, communications and fundraising, outlining some of the highlights of 2015. This part of the meeting also included the presentation of the Anne Byrne Memorial Award. The Anne Byrne Memorial Award is presented annually to a Fighting Blindness member who has demonstrated outstanding dedication and service to the organisation throughout the year. The award is named after one of the founding members of Fighting Blindness and counsellor Anne Byrne and represents her commitment to helping people affected by sight loss and her constant support of the Fighting Blindness membership. The joint winners of this year’s award are Cearbhall O’Meadhra and Albert Brown. Since 2012 Bert and Cearbhall have been the corner-stones of the Exchange Club, the group set up by Fighting Blindness to help people living with different levels of vision to get the most from technology available today. Every Monday – rain, hail or shine – they come to the meeting in the Fighting Blindness office in Ely Place, Dublin 2, and make their expertise available to anyone who needs it. Not only that – during the week if anyone needs help they will provide this help over the phone. Many people have come to the Exchange Club with absolutely no idea of how to use a laptop or an iPhone, for instance, and have “graduated” to become experts in their own right and able to pass on their knowledge in turn. It is because of Bert and Cearbhall that the Exchange Club is so successful; their support of others has made a real difference to many people and they are worthy recipients of this year’s award.
The final part of the AGM was a new and exciting element which we added to the meeting after taking into account feedback given by our members to previous events. Instead of a presentation from one guest speaker, we invited a number of guests to attend the meeting and speak to our members. We were delighted to have 17 ophthalmologists and scientists be part of eight separate roundtable discussions where our members had one to one access to ask any questions they had about on-going research and potential therapeutic developments. These discussions were a wonderful addition to the AGM and provided an excellent format for our members to learn from people working at the forefront of vision research and medical care. The roundtables were also a valuable opportunity for doctors and researchers to learn from people living with sight loss about the challenges associated with vision impairment and reinforce the reasons why their vital work is so significant and has the potential to change the day to day lives of so many people.
We will be compiling a report based on the discussions at the AGM and will circulate it shortly. We are extremely grateful to the clinicians and scientists who volunteered their time to attend the meeting and thank them most sincerely for their contribution.
A very special thank you to our valued members and to everyone who attended the AGM and sent their best wishes for the event. The Annual Report for 2015 was distributed at the AGM and is available to download here. If you would like a hard copy of the Annual Report, or if you have any queries, please contact us on 01 6789 004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again and we look forward to meeting you at another event soon!