Leading sight loss charity the Macular Society has said a big thank you to an Orkney woman who is celebrating five years as leader of a local support group.
Susan Leonard, who runs the Orkney Macular Support Group, was surprised by the charity’s regional manager John Furze at a recent group meeting when he presented her with a certificate in recognition of her efforts. The group – one of more than 400 of its kind in the UK – meets once a month at King Street Halls, Kirkwall, and offers vital information, encouragement and friendship to people who are affected by macular disease.
Macular disease is the biggest cause of blindness in the UK. Nearly 1.5 million people are currently affected and many more are at risk. The disease can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, leaving them unable to drive, read or see faces. Many people affected describe losing their sight as being similar to bereavement. There is still no cure and most types of the disease are not treatable. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common form of macular disease, affecting more than 600,000 people, usually over the age of 50.
Susan has been leader and secretary of the group since it launched in 2013, soon after she was diagnosed with AMD.
“I didn’t realise John was going to be presenting me with a certificate, but it was a very nice surprise. I’ve really enjoyed leading the group and have made so many good friends through it.
“It’s just something I really like to do. We have around 30 members who attend regularly; some of them have quite lengthy journeys to get here if they live on one of the more remote islands. It can mean having to travel by road and boat in some cases, but they’re determined to do it as the meetings are so important to them. Everyone enjoys the company and really supports each other; it’s lovely to know that they value it so much.”
John Furze, Macular Society regional manager, said:
“We can’t thank Susan enough for all of her work over the years and the continuing popularity of the Orkney group shows what a tremendous job she has done. Without the commitment and dedication of volunteers like Susan, our macular support groups simply couldn’t exist, so we’re incredibly grateful to them for everything they do.”
The Orkney Macular Support Group meets on the first Thursday of the month (excluding July and August), from 11am-1pm, King Street Halls, Kirkwall East Church, King Street, Kirkwall, Orkney KW15 1JF.
For more information on the group, please contact John Furze, Macular Society regional manager, on 01463 214 190 / 07711 133 733, or email email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>