100 Years of Helping The Blind

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Dorset Blind Association (DBA) is celebrating 100 years of supporting blind and partially sighted people in the county with a centenary ball.

The black tie event takes place at Bournemouth’s Hilton Hotel on Saturday, October 13 and includes a three-course dinner and dancing to a big band, plus a raffle, auction and casino.

DBA, a registered charity founded in 1918 and whose patrons include actor and writer Julian Fellowes and his wife Emma along with BAFTA winning film director Stephen Frears, offers practical services and emotional support to visually impaired individuals across Dorset.

DBA Chief Executive Jonathan Holyhead said: “This is our major celebratory event for our centenary year – a chance to say a big thank you to the many people who have helped us over the years.

“It is also an important fundraising event. We are not funded by the government or Royal National Institute of Blind People so 100 per cent of what we do needs to be supported through fundraising. That’s nearly £400,000 we need to raise every year.”

DBA has 1,354 members, 314 volunteers, seven trustees, four community support workers, two sight equipment vehicles, advice service at Dorchester REI and 21 social and activity clubs.

The centenary ball is being sponsored by Dorset-based financial planning firm Blue Sky Financial Planning, a DCCI Platinum Partner.

Managing Director Gary Neild said: “We are delighted to continue our sponsorship with the DBA and help to raise funds for this important cause at what will be a truly memorable night.

Gary founded Poole-based Blue Sky in 2002, and added: “It is very much my company’s ethos that we encourage clients to ‘live the life they want’.

“Obviously, not everyone is able to do this when there are health issues to contend with and that is why we support the centenary ball – as a way of helping others while having fun at the same time.”

DBA, originally called Dorsetshire County Association for the care of the Blind (DCAB), was founded in 1918 which coincided with veterans returning from the First World War who sustained injuries affecting their sight.

In the early days blind homeworkers were paid to make baskets and nets. Others were trained to work as musicians, masseuses, knitters and piano tuners.

In the 1920s braille social centres were set up in both Weymouth and Parkstone and a home teacher employed. A home for blind people was opened in Parkstone in the 1950s and the first paid secretary hired in 1986.

In 1989 DCAB issued the first Link Magazine, which has now become the Dorset Link Newsletter and in 2004 the name was changed to Dorset Blind Association.

Last year DBA opened its first charity shop in Ferndown and was also awarded The Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

Centenary Ball tickets are £60 per person or £600 for a table of 10. Please contact Helena for more information on 01202 712868 or helena@dorsetblind.org.uk.