Founded in 1911, Bournemouth Blind Society is the oldest established independent charity in Bournemouth. Formerly known as both Bournemouth Blind Aid Society and BSVI (Bournemouth Society for the Visually Impaired), the charity was formed following the launch of a nationwide campaign by the National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) to raise funds.

Mr Homer (2nd left) with the Mayor or Bournemouth outside the Rooper Memorial Hall

Mr Homer (2nd left) with the Mayor or Bournemouth outside the Rooper Memorial Hall

Three public spirited local sisters, the Misses Rooper, together with a blind solicitor, Mr L V C Homer decided to address the needs of blind people in Bournemouth.

The founders knew of ten blind people in the area who they felt would benefit directly from assistance and within three months a further seventy had been identified.

 

 

Helen Keller visits Bournemouth Blind Aid Society in 1949/50

Helen Keller (3rd left in front row) visits Bournemouth Blind Aid Society in 1949/50. Mr Homer is in front row, holding walking stick.

Our current building was built in 1927 as a social hall and residential home for blind women. The building and services offered became so popular that in 1950 another storey was added and a second social centre, Hannington Hall, was opened.

Residents were honoured to receive a visit from the deaf and blind American author/lecturer Helen Keller in 1949/50.  Helen was an advocate for people with disability.

 

 

Max Bygraves re-opens the Centre in 1998

Max Bygraves re-opens the Centre in 1998

In the late 1980’s the Community Care Act meant that more people were being cared for in their own homes.

After a short period of refurbishment, Max Bygraves reopened the building in October 1998 as a new activity and social hub for visually impaired people.

 

 

 

 

David Blunkett, MP, Home Secretary, opens the BSVI Rehabilitation Kitchen in 2003

David Blunkett, MP, Home Secretary, opens the BSVI Rehabilitation Kitchen in 2003

In September 2000, the Bournemouth Blind Aid Society changed its name to Bournemouth Society for the Visually Impaired.  The charity purchased its own minibus providing subsidised transport and offered its members a full programme of social activities.

In conjunction with Bournemouth Social Services, a Sight and Hearing Resource Centre opened, fully equipped with items designed to assist visually impaired and hearing impaired people with independent daily living.

In 2003 a Rehabilitation Kitchen was opened by David Blunkett.  The kitchen is used to teach Daily Living Skills to people who have recently lost their sight.

 

HRH Earl of Wessex launches the BSVI 'Floating Support' service in 2007

HRH Earl of Wessex launches the BSVI ‘Floating Support’ service in 2007

Caterina Husbands, BACP

Caterina Husbands, BACP

In 2007 members were thrilled to meet HRH Earl of Wessex who launched the Floating Support service.

In 2008 the Emotional Support service was established by Caterina Husbands, BACP.

 

 

 

President Dorothy Cook (right) with the BSVI patron Michael Fulford-Dobson (left) and Chairman Ted Stevens (centre)

President Dorothy Cook (right) with the BSVI patron Michael Fulford-Dobson (left) and Chairman Ted Stevens (centre)

In 2012, the Society sadly said goodbye to Dorothy Cook, who had been associated with the Charity since 1955 and was President from 2007. Over the years Dorothy had helped organise social activities, holidays, outings and garden fetes, in addition to writing the newsletter and helping to cook Christmas lunches.   Her dedication to the organisation was evident in her baking of cakes for the Christmas Fayre a few days before passing away.

On 1st April 2015,  the Trustees re-branded the charity as Bournemouth Blind Society whose aims are to strengthen and develop its services to visually impaired people living in the Bournemouth area.

 

The Gallery Wall

The Gallery Wall at Bournemouth Library

During October 2016 the Society proudly held its first Art Exhibition at Bournemouth Library. Visitors were impressed with the pieces on display in a range of different media – paintings (acrylic and watercolour), clay, collage, mosaics, quilting, knitting and free stitch.

The work promoted the clear message that sight loss does NOT mean having to give up hobbies or artistic pursuits.