In this illuminating case study, we delve into the remarkable journey of Roy Frank Smith MBE, a dedicated individual committed to supporting visually impaired communities.
As the Chair of Trustees for the Kingston Association for the Blind (KAB), Roy’s story is one of inspiration and selflessness. With a rich history in sports, including participation in the Paralympics and an MBE for his contributions to Disabled Sport, Roy’s transition from competitive sports to community service is a testament to his unwavering passion for making a difference.
As we celebrate Trustees’ Week (6-10 November 2023), join us as we explore Roy’s role, responsibilities, and impactful achievements, including empowering visually impaired individuals to get involved in sport.
Volunteer: Roy Frank Smith MBE
Role: Chair of Trustees
Organisation: Kingston Association for the Blind (KAB)
Tell us a little about yourself:
I live in New Malden, now retired, but I have been volunteering for various sight loss charities for the last 50 years. I took part in the Paralympics and have been involved in both the summer and winter Olympics. I have run Marathons and Half Marathons to raise money for the sight loss sector. I received the MBE from the Queen in 1991 for services to Disabled Sport, and I had the privilege of being a torchbearer in the 2012 London Olympics.
What inspired you to become a Trustee?
I had so much fun taking part in sport as an individual and in teams, I wanted hundreds more people in London and Nationwide to be able to have the same amount of fun. The rewards from watching visually impaired people of all ages enjoying a wide range of activities are immense. I have been involved as the chair of British Blind Sport and Chair of Metro Blind Sport and Social Club for the visually impaired for over 30 years. Over thousands of individuals have befitted from the clubs I have been involved in. My passion, in the long run, is to see the fun blind children have running, jumping and throwing and all blind and partially sighted people of all ages enjoying a wide range of activities.
How did you find out about the volunteering role?
When I stopped competing nationally and internationally, I looked at how I could support local visually impaired charities. I contacted the Royal Borough of Kingston who put me in touch with KAB. In June 2023 I became the Chair of Trustees therefore passing on some of my administration and fundraising skills including networking and coaching contacts.
Tell us about your Trustee role.
My role is to coordinate with the CEO and other trustee members, meet with new members and volunteers and provide essential awareness training, especially for members with recent sight loss. To ensure that we have enough funds to support the activities we provide and try and increase our income so we can increase our services and activities to over 4,000 people living with sight loss in this borough. All information is sent out in the format of the members’ choice e.g. large print, audio, talking newspapers and accessible website.
Please, tell us about your most memorable experience as a Trustee volunteer.
Organising one-to-one swimming lessons for blind and partially sighted people who cannot swim. Finding the funds from Sport England and Royal Borough of Kingston to book training pools and one-to-one coaching has been enormously rewarding. It has fulfilled so many members’ dreams of swimming for the first time. We have also inspired members who have lost their sight later in life to regain their confidence to go back into the pool with one-to-one coaching with separate lanes in the pool, thus avoiding the fear of collisions and people jumping into roped-off areas.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a Trustee?
Sit in at a few meetings first, go along to some activities, meet the members, check out our newsletters and see what a difference you can make to the visually impaired community.
Can you sum up your experience in three words?
Life changing experience