Vision Impaired People Gather In Cathedral To Honour Sight Loss Charity’s Founder

Blind and vision impaired people from all over Norfolk gathered in Norwich Cathedral for a brief service to honour the founder of the county’s sight loss charity, on the 217th anniversary of its founding.

Trustees, staff and supporters of Vision Norfolk gathered around the memorial plaque to Thomas Tawell in the Cathedral’s nave, to commemorate the man – himself blind – who founded the charity which still supports visually-impaired people throughout the county today.  Tawell died in 1820, having founded the charity 15 years before his death.

The service takes place annually to mark the founding of the fifth oldest sight loss charity in the UK.  Led by Canon Andy Bryant, the ceremony saw chief executive Andrew Morter read out the inscription from the memorial tablet, with prayers said for the present and future of the charity.

Vision Norfolk trustee Bridget Hemmant, who is a consultant ophthalmologist at the James Paget and an honorary consultant at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, laid flowers beside the tablet.

Also attending was Peter Spaul, who is a direct descendant of Thomas Tawell.

“Thomas Tawell was a man who was very much ahead of his time,” said Mr Morter.  When he set up a ‘hospital and school for indigent blind persons’ at the beginning of the 19th century, the lot of the vision impaired was very hard indeed.

“Today Vision Norfolk carries on Thomas Tawell’s legacy by continually adapting and modernising to ensure we are meeting the needs of today’s vision impaired people – but we never forget our roots, and the debt that generations of vision impaired people in Norfolk owe to Thomas Tawell.”

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