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About us

The Society was established in 1910 by a group of people living in the Newbury area with Dame Edith Benyon as its first President.

Historical photo of BCBS

Our history

Funding initially came from voluntary donations from the Society’s founders and committee members.

In the 1920s the Society made steady progress as it became the ‘Agent for the Council of Welfare of the Blind’ outlined in the new Blind Persons Act announced by the Ministry of Health. There were 306 members on the Society’s register.

The war years brought an influx of visually impaired evacuees into Berkshire, mainly soldiers blinded in action.

In 1946 a house was purchased and used as a residential home for the blind. In 1952 there were 479 blind or partially sighted people on the register, the Society’s home teachers made 7,177 visits and gave 423 braille and craft lessons each year.

Eventually residential care was no longer needed and the Charity’s properties were sold. In 1962 the Society moved to its present Headquarters in Reading. In 1989 the decision was made to terminate the fundraising agreement with RNIB to allow greater freedom of activity and focus.

The funding now comes from a combination of charitable trusts, donations and a comprehensive programme of fundraising including events, community fundraising, corporate support and legacy giving. Funding also comes from local authority grants to enable us to help them deliver certain statutory services.

The Charity is now moving into the next 100 years with a fresh and exciting vision for the future.

Membership

Some of our members on Brighton Pier

Membership gives you exclusive access to all the events and activities that the charity offers, for example:

• Theatre trips
• Home visits
• Music concerts
• Museum visits
• Day trips to places of interest
• Sports events

The trips are often subsidised and travel may be included. The membership fee is just £10 per year. To find out more simply get in touch.

Trustees

We have a board of Trustees who oversee the work of the charity. They all volunteer their time to ensure that the charity offers the best service and support to visually impaired people throughout Berkshire.

Greg Wilkinson (Chair)
Ian Fraser (Treasurer)
David Brazier
David Few LLB
Martin Gubb
Don Reed
Pauline Robertson
Bill Underwood

Patrons

The charity is also supported by Richard Benyon MP as its Patron.

President

The Hon Mrs Jessica White is the Charity’s President.

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