Paralympian becomes Chair of Trustees at Kingston Association for Blind

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.

trustees week kingston association for blind

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

If you have been inspired by Roy’s experience, consider becoming a trustee with Kingston Association for the Blind or check out other opportunities in Kingston and become a volunteer today.

How to recruit a trustee

According to the Charity Commission, approximately one in five charities in the UK has a trustee vacancy indicating that there is definitely no shortage of opportunities.

So why is it a challenge for the charities to find a trustee with the right experience and skillset? If you are one of those charities facing similar challenge, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your approach towards trustee recruitment.

Every charity can build a strong board if it invests time and effort in trustee recruitment and retention. With our easy step by step guide, you can now reintroduce ways to finding your next trustee.

Step 1: Preparing for Trustee Recruitment

  • Identify skills and experience- determine gaps in the skills and experience within your board, consider the diversity of the board
  • Create an information pack- full description of the role, specific skills and experience you are seeking; an overview of the organisation, its priorities and strategies.

Step 2: The Recruitment Process

  • Promote the role– depending on your affordability and accessibility promote the role through Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn.
  • Use specialist platforms – Do-it and Trusteefinder or a recruitment firm and your immediate internal & external network.
  • Interview objectives – be clear of what qualities you are seeking (candidate’s understanding of the organisation, the role, and the difference between management and governance), have an honest dialogue about the challenges they might face, their expectations and objectives for applying. Above all, are they passionate towards the cause of the charity?

Step 3: Training, Induction and Review

  • Give trustees time and resources to help them become an effective member of the board. The Code of Good Governance and The Essential Trustee are some of the useful resources.
  • Monitoring and evaluation is the key to understanding the effectiveness of strategic management the board is responsible for, so take time to review the new appointment and see how they are settling in the role after 4 – 6 months.

Trustees’ Week 2019


What are Trustees?

Trustees, sometimes knows as directors, board members, governors or committee members, are volunteers who make decisions about how a charity organisation should run; ensuring that it is using it’s resources appropriately and working in the best interest of the beneficiaries and wider community. This means that the skills and experience that Trustees bring to charities are vital to the way that the organisations develop and evolve, making diversity in Trustees very important.

Research published in 2019 shows that diversity in Trustees in the UK could be much improved:

Only 2% of Trustees are young people
92% of Trustees are white
64% are male
​The average age of a Trustee in England and Wales is 59 years-old

These shocking statistics show that the people influencing the decisions made by charities are not reflective of the population and that equal representation in Trustees should be high on the agenda.

Who can become a Trustee?

Anyone who aspires to help a charity organisation achieve their goals and aims can become a Trustee and a huge range of skills could be valuable to the charity. For example, your social media skills could help a charity reach out to the public; or your ethnicity, religion or age may be able to bring a different viewpoint to represent a certain part of the community and ensure equal representation.
Volunteering as a Trustee is a rewarding role but one that most volunteers don’t tend to consider. Each organisation will expect its trustees to spend a different amount of time on the role but most Trustee roles involve meeting the rest of the board four to eight times a year and most trusteeship fits conveniently around work, home and other commitments.

Trustees Week 2018

Trustees Week runs from 12- 16 November and is a time to celebrate the important part that trustees play in the running of charities.

But what are Trustees?



What are Trustees?

Trustees are the people who lead the charity and decide how it is run. Being a trustee means making decisions that will impact people in their community or society as a whole. Trustees use their skills and experience to support their charities, helping them achieve their aims. Trustees also often learn new skills during their time on the board so being a trustee is a great way to learn.

Volunteering as a Trustee is a rewarding role but one that most volunteers don’t tend to consider. However your experience could make a lasting impact on the charity, for example your social media skills could help a charity keep up in the digital age; or you may be able to bring a different viewpoint to represent a certain part of the community and ensure that all members of the community are heard.


Volunteering as a Trustee is a rewarding role but one that most volunteers don’t tend to consider. However your experience could make a lasting impact on the charity, for example your social media skills could help a charity keep up in the digital age; or you may be able to bring a different viewpoint to represent a certain part of the community and ensure that all members of the community are heard.



How do I become a trustee?

You will find trustee vacanies in our latest Star Opportunities newsletter and through Volunteer Connect.

Not registered to receive our opportunities newsletter which has the best of the latest volunteering opportunities?

Sign up here




Meet a Trustee…


Anna from Kingston recently volunteered at Kingston Carers Network as a Treasurer. She has ths following to say about her experience as a Trustee (taken from Kingston Carers Network website):

 “I was attracted to the worthwhile cause and the growth in the charity’s reach.”


Hello, My name is Rhiannon and I volunteered for the KCN treasurer position in August 2017.

I qualified as a chartered accountant back in 2008 and my accounting career has specialised in the charity sector ever since, having worked for organisations including the NSPCC and The British Museum.


Last year I decided to reduce my paid employment from full to part time to fit in with family commitments, which I also saw as the perfect time in my career to ‘give something back’ by using some of my spare time to volunteer for a charity.  I hoped I could share my charity finance expertise, and in particular my experience of working with charity fundraisers to secure much needed money, with a dynamic local charity.  This is when I came across the treasurer advert for KCN which fitted the bill perfectly.  Having researched the charity, I was attracted to the worthwhile cause and the growth in the charity’s reach over the past years.


I applied for the position and had an interview with the Chairman, and also met some of the other board members.  We got on well and I was keen to commit to the role, and they were keen to have me as treasurer and trustee.  It’s been a great varied position.  I have attended monthly board meetings to present the charity’s financial position, worked with the CEO to advise on funding proposals and worked with KCN’s Finance Officer to assist on financial procedures.  The KCN board and staff are a fantastic bunch and I strongly encourage those reading this to consider if they too would like to apply to join KCN’s board.

You can apply to be a Trustee at Kingston Carers Network here (via the form on the right hand side of the page)