Kingston Upon Thames Association for the Blind


Please see below a copy of our Spring 2021 Newsletter, alternatively if you would like to download a copy and read later please follow this link

Kingston upon Thames Association for the Blind


Spring 2021 Newsletter


Welcome to the 45th edition of Eye Opener.

After a long and cold start to the year, at last spring is on its way, bringing warmer and brighter days and whilst we haven’t seen the end of the challenges ahead, we are feeling optimistic, and looking forward to better days to come. We are hopeful we will soon be back delivering some of our services and activities face to face. We know many of you have now, at least received your first vaccination against the coronavirus and KAB is now planning their own roadmap out of lockdown.

Throughout lockdown 3, the office has remained closed and we have continued to provide support and practical care. Throughout February and March, Vanessa and Lisa have made over 250 well-being calls, amazing team work and a fantastic achievement.

More and more of our service users are now enjoying our telephone befriending scheme and a big shout out goes to the volunteers who have given up their time, to check-in and have friendly chat with someone that is feeling lonely and isolated, and in need of a bit of company.

When restrictions lift we plan to offer a more comprehensive Assistive Technology Service; as we will not only be able to provide ongoing support with Smartphones, Tablets and Smart Speakers, but we will be able to demonstrate computer software with zoom-in magnification and screen readers and give you the opportunity to ‘try before you buy’. We are all now trained demonstrators of Dolphin Guide Connect.

At the start of this year we introduced our weekly Zoom sessions, which have been a huge success:

Here are a few messages from our members:

“I really enjoy these sessions as it makes me feel like I’m in a room with people I know” Martin.
“Good to do the exercises especially whilst we have been stuck indoors. It’s something to look forward too and keeps me moving” Polly.
“Emily’s exercise class is such fun” Mollie.
“I wasn’t sure how well the ‘getting to know you’ session would go but it was great and we found out things we didn’t know about each other! I love the quizzes too, thank you to everyone involved” Barbara A.
“The talk from Mike Siegel was great and I loved hearing about our Town Cryer and Tipstaff” Barbara S.

The Zoom activities run weekly, Tuesdays and Thursdays, alternate weeks. The Tuesday sessions start at 2.00 pm and include; chair based exercises with Emily’s Dance Academy, and other activities. The Thursday sessions start at 11.30 am; these include either a guest speaker or focus on a specific theme/subject and if there is time, a short quiz and, of course, some chat. If you would like to join us and have a bit of fun, please email, [email protected] or telephone the office.

We hope you enjoy reading this newsletter; if you have any interesting stories, ideas or suggestions for future editions, please let us know, we would love to hear from you. Once you have read this newsletter please pass it on to a friend or relative, leave it at your GP’s surgery, community centre or church as it will help increase our readership and provide a greater awareness of the work we do!

Take care and stay safe and remember, we are here for you, your friends and families.

Jean, Lisa & Vanessa – KAB Team

Trustee Update

At the forthcoming AGM on May 5th, we will be electing the posts of Chair, Secretary and Treasurer as normal. However, the difference will be; there will be some new people seeking election. Full details of the AGM, including the invitation, agenda and official notice can be found on the last three pages of this newsletter.

Phil Margree – Stepping down as Secretary
Phil has been our Secretary for 14 years now and had intended to retire last year, had we been able to hold an AGM. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Phil for his many years of service to KAB and the Kingston Talking Newspaper (KTN), and for his generosity in continuing beyond his intended retirement date to support us, as we found our way through the pandemic. Please join with me in wishing Phil the best for a well-deserved retirement.

Adrian Munt – Stepping down as Chair and acting Treasurer
Taking on one role was always going to be a challenge for anyone already with a full time job elsewhere; two roles even more so, including dealing with the challenges of a change to the way we are funded and a pandemic (which definitely wasn’t in the job description).
Having had to incorporate two other roles within the day job has meant I’ve had very little time to adequately devote to KAB and it is therefore right for all, that I should stand down.

Mo Chaudhry – Seeking election as Chair. Mo comes to us with a background in both accountancy and Optometry, a rare combination indeed! Mo entered the profession of Optometry to help and serve the public and is now looking forward to further fulfil his ambitions, by helping KAB in its mission to serve its members and strengthen the charities processes. As a trained Chartered Accountant he is also hoping to bring his knowledge of auditing other charities, reviewing finances and processes to the betterment of KAB. Mo is also involved with his local Optical Committee in the capacity of a Trustee / Shadow Treasurer.

Duncan Stewart – Seeking election as Treasurer. Duncan has a background in banking, lives locally and is Visually Impaired. He is a service user of KAB, a keen tandem cyclist and in the past has attended the self-help group Eye Contact. Duncan has advanced Glaucoma and is registered Severely Sighted Impaired. He has worked in several financial institutions over the years, 25 years of which were in internal audit. He holds an ACIB qualification (Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers) and a BSc in Financial Studies from UMIST. Duncan is also involved with The Bank Workers Charity, where he is a Trustee and member of the Audit & Risk Committee and is Chair of the 1st Old Malden Scouts.

Ellie MayorSeeking election as Secretary. Ellie also lives locally and recently retired from a career with HM Revenue & Customs, where she held a variety of roles; including work with the HMRC Charities Policy Team and this involved working with the Charity Commission. Prior to Ellie’s work at HMRC she worked in a University Library and on a temporary basis with the RNIB, for a short period of time. Having commuted to central London for many years, Ellie is now keen to have more involvement in the local community and has recently been stewarding at a COVID-19 vaccination centre in New Malden. As a regular cyclist and user of public transport she is looking forward to increasing her understanding of the challenges for the visually impaired.

We all look forward to working with Mo, Duncan and Ellie in taking KAB forward, our first steps after handovers being to resume our activities as soon as lockdown releases permit this.

Finally, I wish to thank Carol Barnshaw, Barbara Amess and Sue Williams for their support as Vice Chairs and the members of our Board of Trustees.

I also wish to thank Jean, Vanessa and Lisa for going well above what is in their job descriptions, in order to keep KAB functioning during the unexpectedly challenging times for everyone.

Adrian Munt – Chair and acting Treasurer

KAB Clubs & Activities

Good news first! The Tandem Scheme is out of lockdown and Eric, front rider for Duncan wasted no time in taking advantage of this. At the end of March, on Duncan’s racing tandem for the first time since mid-November, it was dry and not too cold but the wind was gusting making the outward leg from Worcester Park, through Epsom, Tattenham Corner, Headley and Pebble Hill hard work.  The stiffness in the legs also played a part, as did the fact that Duncan's saddle had somehow dropped.  It was a relief to get to Tanhouse Farm at Newdigate for a break.  Coffee was bought and the saddle adjusted.  The return journey had a tailwind and Eric got the bit between his teeth.  Through the rolling Surrey countryside back to Dorking then up Box Hill at a pace, such that Eric noted later when analysing the stats from the bike computer that we were only 5 seconds slower than our best time up Box Hill.  We then went on to Headley and downhill to Epsom, racing the multitude of cyclists out enjoying the day.  From Epsom we headed to Horton where the road back to Ewell is smooth and slightly downhill, letting Eric spin those pedals and wheels like he was leading the Tour de France with Duncan struggling to keep time.  Back in Worcester Park; the computer read 44 miles covered and the ride was subject to a post-mortem.  The conclusion was reached, that overall, it was a good ride.  Duncan and Eric are hoping to get out again soon for a trip to Ripley, where there is a particularly good cafe.

Outdoor Lawn Bowls at Hook & Southborough Bowling Club will resume at the beginning of May and Ten Pin Bowling is expected to re-commence mid-May.

At present we are unable to confirm any dates for Social Eyes and Lunch Club as we are dependent on halls being available to hire. In the meantime we are planning to have a couple of outings in the summer, for the members of these clubs.

If you are interested in getting involved in any of these activities, whether you are visually impaired or interested in volunteering, please contact us by calling 020 8605 0060 or email, [email protected]. No experience necessary, training will be provided.

Kingston Talking Newspaper (KTN)

Many of you will know Brian from KTN, who over the years has dedicated numerous voluntary hours every week to the newspaper! So, it goes without saying, we were absolutely delighted to hear that he had been nominated to receive a Mayor’s COVID Award. These additional new awards are being given out this year alongside the Mayor’s Community Awards to a number of people within the Royal Borough in recognition of their outstanding work in the Community during the pandemic. Congratulations Brian, a well-deserved honour and thank you from everyone at KAB for all your commitment and dedication to KTN over the past years. Our thanks also, go to Helen for nominating Brian.

The recording and distributing of the newspaper resumed on memory sticks, last November, to the relief of many of the KTN listeners. Recording continues at the producers and readers homes and is then passed to Brian, who has the inevitable task of editing, ready for the final copy. A great achievement indeed and we are sure you will join us in thanking Brian and his team, who are anxiously waiting to get back to the Studio, but as it’s difficult to read clearly with a mask on, that may not be for a little while yet. You can also listen to KTN by calling, 0330 2233 452, or by using the Amazon Echo and asking Alexa; KAB/KTN websites, podcast links or the Talking Newspaper App. Please call the office or Brian, if you need any help.

Reading Friends

This is a national scheme being run by Kingston Libraries that tackles loneliness and social isolation by bringing people together to read, share stories, chat and have fun. A Reading Befriender holds regular one-to-one or small group sessions that begin with the reading of a poem, short story, letter or other piece of text to spark conversation and connect people socially. It is different to a structured book group as there is no reading to do beforehand. Due to the pandemic these sessions are currently taking place over the phone or online using Zoom. Reading Friends brings people together, using reading to spark conversations and get everyone chatting. 
A small group of our service users are already taking advantage of this great service. If you or someone you know would benefit from joining them or having a one-to-one Reading Friend? Both are available by phone or Zoom, for more information and to help you register, please email [email protected] or telephone 020 8605 0060.

In Memoriam

The past twelve months have been difficult for many of us and especially so, for those that have had to say goodbye to their loved ones. We remember fondly Elsie, Linda, Beryl, Anne, Mary and Alan; who will be sadly missed at our Social Eyes, Eye Contact and Lunch Club groups. Our sincere condolences go to their families and friends and we acknowledge with gratitude the kind donations to KAB in their memory.

Our thoughts are also with the friends and family of Frank Gaisford. Frank was an inspirational person who gave decades of civic duty to Kingston-upon-Thames. He was a Councillor for many years, a former Mayor and Honorary Alderman. Frank was associated with KAB for many years; he was a past Chairman of the charity and Vice-President. He had Glaucoma as did his own father, and this motivated him to help people with sight impairment. Frank’s niece recognised Kingston Association for the Blind was close to his heart and set-up a Just Giving crowd-funder in remembrance of her Uncle. The total raised is £1,444 and we are very humbled and grateful to everyone that has donated, the money will make a real difference to KAB and its members.


Last year KAB missed out on quite a few fundraising opportunities due to COVID-19 and this is likely to continue well into 2021. It is imperative that we continue to raise vital funds to keep our valuable services running, if you are able to help there are many ways you can do this on our website, , alternatively you can call 020 8605 0060 for more information.

Thank you so much if you’ve remembered us already and if you are considering it, after you’ve looked after your loved ones, of course, we would be, as ever grateful. If you are thinking of leaving some of your money to KAB in your will, there are further details on our website, as above.

Thank you to everyone that supported us in 2020 including, Vision Foundation, the Royal Borough of Kingston, the Kingston Nursing Association, Waitrose, Tesco Bags for Life and Morrison’s.

**COVID-19 & Vaccination Programme **

KAB is actively involved with the weekly COVID-19 briefings held by Kingston Council’s Public Health Team. These briefings provide us with information on trends in the virus transmission in Kingston, hot spots in the borough, key new messaging and developments.

As we start to enjoy more social contact outdoors, it’s vital we continue to follow the rules and stick to the guidelines on regular hands washing, wearing face coverings (unless you are exempt) and keeping a safe distance. Keeping rooms well ventilated, by opening windows or doors, is important too.

At KAB we know that many of the Government Guidelines for COVID-19 are aimed at the general population and social distancing and self-isolation is difficult for blind and partially sighted people but we will find a way around this, so that our members are able to continue leading independent lives.

COVID-19 Test and Trace was covered in quite some detail in our November issue of Eye Opener and this is available to read on our website, You can book a free test by calling 119 or by visiting, There are three walk-through testing sites in the borough, which are open 8 am to 8 pm seven days a week, by appointment only, they are: Milner Road, Kingston, the Hawker Centre, Kingston and Cocks Crescent, New Malden. There is also a drive-through testing centre at Twickenham Stadium, by appointment only, and a mobile testing unit at Kingston’s Cattle Market car park on certain days throughout the next few months, operating between 9 am to 3 pm. If anyone needs help in booking a test, getting to one of the centres, or to receive information/guidance in a different format or language, please contact the office on 020 8605 0060.

If you are a volunteer and are showing no symptoms of COVID-19 and want to continue with your vital work for KAB, you can get regular, rapid coronavirus tests to check whether you unknowingly have the virus. Details of where you can receive a rapid test can be found on Kingston Council’s website, or alternatively call the office and we can provide the information.

The vaccination programme is going well and thanks to our amazing NHS, more than 62,000 residents have now received at least one dose of the vaccine. The NHS is currently offering the vaccine to people who are 50 and over, residents and staff in care homes, people who are extremely clinically vulnerable and health and care staff. The vaccines are safe, effective and will save lives. If you have any concerns about getting the COVID vaccine, speak to your GP or a healthcare professional. The sooner everyone gets vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to normal, and all restart doing the things we love.


If you haven’t completed the Census yet, you still need to do this as soon as possible. Reminder letters are now being sent and Census Field Officers are knocking on doors to remind people too but time is running out!

If you need any help in accessing the online form or completing the form, Kingston Voluntary Action is providing a local support centre. They can remotely complete the census online over the telephone, to get in touch with them call 020 8255 3335 or email, [email protected].

Eye Bay

If you are interested in purchasing or loaning any of the following items, please contact the office on 020 8605 0060:

Sonic2 memory stick player
Smart Talk – Talking easy to use set top box
RNIB talking cube clock
Swissvoice Xtra 1110 amplified corded large button telephone
Cobolt Speechmaster Talking Microwave Oven Mk6

13th April 2021

Dear Member

KAB Annual General Meeting 2021

I have great pleasure in inviting you to the KAB AGM on Wednesday 5th May 2021 from 2.00 pm, to be held on line, via the video conferencing platform, Zoom. We are delighted to let you know that The Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Margaret Thomson or the Deputy Mayor will be attending the event. To reserve a place, please telephone the office on 020 8605 0060, mobile 07458 301583, or alternatively you can email [email protected] . Once you have booked your attendance the log in details for the meeting will be sent to you.

We hope to see lots of you there, if you are unsure on how to join the meeting via Zoom, please let the office know as they may be able to help by either providing a Tech Buddy or talking you through the joining process.

Please see overleaf the Agenda and Official Notice from the Honorary Secretary, Phil Margree.

With kindest regards.

Adrian Munt
KAB Chair and acting Treasurer

KAB AGM – Wednesday 5th May, 2021 from 2.00 pm


1. Welcome & Housekeeping – Adrian Munt/Jean Warwick.

2. Address by the Mayor or Deputy Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.

3. Attendance and Apologies for absence - Phil Margree.

**4. Minutes of 2019 AGM and matters arising **- Phil Margree.

5. Chairman’s Annual Report – Adrian Munt.

6. Treasurer’s Report and adoption of accounts 31st October, 2020 – Adrian Munt.

7. Election of Officers and Committee Members – Chair.

**8. Appointment of Independent Examiner of Accounts ** – Chair.

9. Resolutions from Affiliated Clubs – Chair.

10. Questions or matters raised by Members – All.

Close of Meeting by the Chairman

Official Notice

Notice is hereby given, that the Association is holding its Annual General Meeting virtually, via the video conferencing platform Zoom on Wednesday 5th May 2021 from 2.00 pm

Business will include:

To receive the Annual Report of the Committee

To receive and adopt the Accounts for the year

To elect Officers and Committee for the year

To appoint an Independent Examiner of Accounts

To receive resolutions from Affiliated Clubs and questions from members

Applications, nominations and resolutions should be sent to the KAB office at least 14 days before the AGM.

Phil Margree
KAB Honorary Secretary

Distributed April 2021
This document is printed on Recycled Paper and is published and promoted by
Kingston Association for the Blind 2A Sussex Road New Malden KT3 3PY.
Telephone: 020 8605 0060 / mobile 07458 301583

Email: [email protected]
Website: /
Charity Registration Number 249295

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