See My Skills Gala: Celebrating 100 years with a showcase of sight loss talent – Vision Foundation

See My Skills Gala: Celebrating 100 years with a showcase of sight loss talent

On Thursday 19 May 2022, we hosted the See My Skills Gala. Our Royal Patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex and Vice Presidents; Sir John Major, Lord David Blunkett and Cherie Blair QC joined Vision Foundation supporters and ambassadors at the Museum of London to mark the occasion.

We were thrilled to welcome a cohort of incredible visually impaired actors, musicians, artists and poets to the gala. The evening began with a poem by Dave Steele aka The Blind Poet, the tables were decorated with unique braille centre pieces by Clarke Reynolds, the Blind Braille Artist and we were entertained with music by Thuy and Scott and songs by young actor, Eleanor Stollery and Vision Foundation’s Grants Officer, Kerry Firth.

Supporters also got stuck into a live and silent auction, raising funds towards the Centenary Appeal. Bidders were in with a chance of winning a range of incredible prizes, from getaways to Tuscany to a porcelain replica of M’s iconic ‘Jack the Bulldog’ in Skyfall, signed by Dame Judi Dench! The exciting live auction was led by one of the most recognisable voices on TV when it comes to antiques and collectables, auctioneer, Jonty Hearnden.

Thanks to the generous support of the people in the room and those bidding at home, the See My Skills Gala raised £100,000 through pledges, live and silent auction bids and table sales.

Collage: Naqi Rizvi, Centenary Appeal Board Co-Chair, See My Skills Gala event programme, lucky auction winner with framed artwork, Vision Foundation trustee, Dr Amit Patel and young actor Eleanor Stollery, musician Thuy (of 'Thuy and Scott'), aerial shot of gala tables at the Museum of London, Olivia Curno, Chief Executive of Vision Foundation.

 

A year of #SeeMySkills

The See My Skills campaign was launched in July 2021 to mark our Centenary celebrations and change the employment landscape for visually impaired people; setting out a roadmap to ensure that everyone, sighted or blind, has the chance to enjoy the independence, purpose and meaning that employment can bring.

The campaign included commissioning research from the University of Birmingham, releasing an Employment Report with a call to action for policy makers, businesses and charitable organisations, producing four films following the stories of Jurgen, Lucy, Naqi and Michael, curating training and resources for employers and focusing our grant-making strategy on breaking the barriers to employment for blind and partially sighted people.

 

Inspiring speeches

Throughout the gala, we heard from keynote speakers including HRH The Countess of Wessex, Lord David Blunkett, Sir John Major, Naqi Rizvi and Michael Smith.

Collage of HRH The Countess of Wessex, Sir John Major, Lord David Blunkett, Naqi Rizvi and Michael Smith speaking at the lectern

 

HRH The Countess of Wessex, Royal Patron of Vision Foundation

“We are here this evening as supporters of Vision Foundation to celebrate the talent within the sight loss sector and to encourage everyone in our society to ‘see the skills’ of blind and partially sighted people.

I’d like to thank Vision Foundation for challenging perceptions of what can be achieved by blind and partially sighted people, whether that be in sport, the arts or, by empowering blind and partially sighted people to realise their employment aspirations. Everyone who attended and supports Vision Foundation’s work should feel proud about the work they do in changing lives, and building a fairer society.”

 

Sir John Major, Vice President of Vision Foundation

“I have had the privilege and pleasure of being a Vice President of the Vision Foundation for 20 years. Over those years, I have witnessed the Vision Foundation fund essential projects to support blind and partially sighted people and campaign tirelessly for systemic change.

I am proud to stand with the Vision Foundation as they change the attitudes of employers by showcasing what is possible… and I am proud to support their work with hundreds of individuals, providing the skills, confidence and connections that visually impaired job seekers need to get ahead.”

 

Lord David Blunkett, Vice President of Vision Foundation

“To celebrate turning 100, a feat not many organisations achieve, the Vision Foundation has turned its focus to breaking down the barriers for blind and partially sighted people gaining meaningful employment. There are over two million people in the UK living with sight loss and shockingly only 1 in 4 of those who are working age are actually in employment.

I have never had sight and it wasn’t easy growing up blind in the fifties and sixties. It took a long time for people to see what I could do, rather than what I couldn’t and as the years went by the support available increased, but for thousands of blind and partially sighted people this support is hard to access and employment opportunities out of reach.

This is what Vision Foundation, an outstanding charity, will change and has changed through their work.”

 

Find out more about our Centenary Appeal here.