Worthing volunteer wins national award for dedication to helping people affected by sight loss

A Worthing volunteer has won a top national award for her work supporting people affected by sight loss.

Pat Clemow won the Chairman’s Award for Volunteering from the Macular Society and was presented with her trophy by chairman John Dunston at the annual Awards for Excellence.

Pat Clemow receives the Chairman's Award for Volunteering

Pat Clemow receives the Chairman's Award for Volunteering

Having previously been shortlisted for the same award in 2017, she was a joint winner this year, as she celebrates her 10th year as leader of the Worthing Area Macular Support Group.

Pat said: “I really enjoy all of the volunteering activities I do for the Macular Society and it’s so rewarding. It also helps raise awareness of macular disease and why it’s so important that a cure is urgently found.”

Pat was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration in 2000 and has since dedicated her time to raising awareness of the condition and supporting people affected.

Her group offers information, encouragement and support to people with macular disease. Meetings are held on the first Friday of the month at Sight Support Worthing’s headquarters in Rowlands Road, Worthing, and on the third Friday of the month at Rustington Manor Hotel, Broadmark Lane, Rustington.

Pat is a Skills for Seeing trainer for the Macular Society, helping people with macular disease to learn new techniques to make the most of their remaining vision.

She also acts as a Gadget Guide volunteer, demonstrating equipment and technology which can make day-to-day life easier for people with macular disease.

Pat said: “I find that having experienced the problems people commonly have when they’re diagnosed with macular disease, it reassures them that I’ve been there and I get what they’re talking about. And I find I learn a lot from the people I’m there to help, too, especially in how they live their lives with sight loss.

“Although I have no central vision now, I use the techniques that I teach to other people to see with the peripheral vision that I still have. I rely a lot on my computer and smartphone and I make sure I have everything pre-prepared when I’m running a meeting or delivering any Skills for Seeing training or Gadget Guide events.

“One of the great things now is all of the technology that’s available to help people with sight loss. When I was first registered, all of the equipment was quite big and not terribly practical. You could learn Braille, which I did, but I’ve never really had to use it. Now, with devices like Kindles and iPads, they have so many functions and apps, the difference they can make is incredible.”

In addition, Pat runs a practical advice and information helpdesk for people with macular disease at Goring Hall Hospital.

She set it up in 2015 to support people with wet AMD, which requires regular injections as treatment, but it has now grown to support people with all types of macular disease.

Pat attends all of the Friday and Saturday NHS clinics at Goring Hall for people with AMD.

Separately to Pat’s award, the ophthalmology department at Goring Hall Hospital was shortlisted for an Award for Excellence, in the Clinical Service of the Year category.