Whissendine woman receives recognition for services to people with visual impairments

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A woman who played a prominent role in a charity which helps blind people, as part of a 40-year career in social care, has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

Jenny Susan Pearce (63), of Whissendine, receives the British Empire Medal for services to people with visual impairment.

Mrs Pearce was chief executive at Vista - the charity providing services to children and adults with sight loss in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland – before retiring two years ago.

She has also worked for many years with people with learning disabilities, including a long stint as manager of the CARE village near Market Harborough.

On her new year honour, Mrs Pearce, who is married to Albert with a son, Callum, said: “It was an enormous surprise when I was told. I feel very honoured and my family are thrilled.”

Under her leadership, Vista became one of the leading local charities in the country for people who are blind or partially sighted. She was also the driving force behind the development of the Adult UK Sight Loss Pathway, which offers commissioners and practitioners a unique tool to enable people with sight loss to get the right support at the right time and from the right person.

Mrs Pearce said: “Loss of your sight represents a massive challenge. Without help, you can’t cross the road on your own anymore. You can’t read your own private mail and just trying to get around your own environment becomes an enormous trial. Organisations like Vista help people to re-learn these skills and so retain independence.”

Even in retirement Mrs Pearce devotes much time to serving as a volunteer and trustee on various organisations. Among these, she’s a governor at the Royal National Institute for the Blind College at Loughborough, a trustee of Thomas Pocklington Trust, which helps visually impaired people, and a trustee of the Big Difference Company which stages the annual Leicester Comedy Festival.