The Great North Run

One of the members, Jack McGrath's  great nephew, Corey Nicholson ran the Great North Run on behalf of Blind Life in Durham, completing the course  in 1 hour 45 minutes.and raising an amazing £500.  

Below is a photo of Corey after the run and then a picture of Corey presenting Jack with the money rasied.  Well Done Corey and Thank You!

The TSB Crook Branch made Blind Life in Durham, their Charity of the Year for 2015/2016.  At a recent event the TSB Branch Manager, Iain Hindmarsh presented a final cheque to Blind Life in Durham.  Over the year they have raised a total of £681.39.  Thank you.

Below is a picture of Iain Hindmarsh presenting the cheque to Jim Welsh, Chairman of Blind Life in Durham and some members.


Blind Life DVD Launch

Blind Life in Durham celebrates 10 years with a film.  During last year some members of Blind Life took part in a Durham County Council
 Adult and Community Learning course with Jack Drum Arts.  With the support of Jack Drum Arts and Ben Race from Capture films and assistance with others like the Heart of Teesdale supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, our members collaborated to make a short film. The purpose of the film is to raise awareness of living with sight loss to the general public, community decision makers, and service providers.

The film premiere was held on Thursday 29th January at Gala Cinema, Durham City, where there was a lively reception with refreshments afterwards. The audience included the members who collaborated on the film, committee members, local councillors, the Mayor of Durham John Robinson and his wife Maxine, DCC sensory support team members, the Adult Learning team and funders.

The film was introduced by Helen Ward from Jack Drum Arts and Michelle Stone from Adult and Community Learning. They discussed the difficulties faced in producing the film and the inspirational nature of the work. Later Helen said “It was wonderful to be able to premiere the film at the Gala with its massive screen and sound system, and to share the film with a large audience.”

After the film screening people gathered in the studio room to discuss their thoughts and impressions. Barbara Gubbins from County Durham Community Foundation said “It is a very inspiring film and puts life into perspective. The people in the film have overcome many challenges with dignity and humour. Especially humour!”

Members of Blind Life in Durham involved in the film and others involved in the production were presented with Oscars. One of the members said “I enjoyed the evening and was very pleasantly surprised by my Oscar.”

You can watch the film online at


In June 2014, Blind Life in Durham celebrated it's 10th Anniversary of becoming a charity.  During the 10 years, the charity has grown and become involved with New Age Kurling, New Age Bowls, loaning out equipment and a reading group to name but some .

To celebrate 10 years, Blind Life held a celebratory meal at the Masonic Hall, Old Elvet, Durham.  The speakers at this event helped Blind Life from its very beginning.  Mrs Eileen Inglesby, wife of Blind Life's patron Mr Inglesby,who was unable to attend, gave a very nice speech and Craig Morgan presented Jim Welch, Chairman, with a special award of a plaque which read "Ten Years of Success."

In July 2013 Blind Life in Durham were awarded funding from County  Durham Community Foundation to purchase a PA System.  This has enabled  us to enhance our social and other meetings by ensuring those towards  the back of a room or hard of hearing can hear the speakers  more clearly.

The new system should increase communication and make a big difference to everyone that attends. We purchased 2 wireless Sennheister Microphones and an Alexis  Amplifier.  We also received training in setting the amplifier and  microphones up and controlling the volume depending on the speaker and  size of the room. We would like to express our gratitude to County Durham Community Foundation.

Blind Life in Durham has redeveloped and updated its website to enable it to be used more easily by visually impaired people. The major work so far has been done by second year IT undergraduates from Durham  University. They have enabled us to do subsequent work with help from a  computer professional to make our site both an example and a training site. The students involved and two Blind Life members are shown in the photo.

2011 Kurling Success

On the weekend of the 30th April and 1st May the World New Age Kurling competition was held in Widnes (Cheshire). Northern teams made a clean sweep in the Pairs competition. The  competition was won overall by Bob Jackson and Alan Gregson from the  Wear Valley club after a hard fought 8 end match against the runner’s upSimon Newton and Colin Welch from Blind Life in Durham (standing either side of the sport designer John Bennet) Blind Life had four pairs competing and hope to continue sending groups to competitions.

We have a fun blind awareness fund raising competition taking place on  22nd of June – teams of four are invited to compete against us
The Co-operative, from whom we have had some funding have already told us the name of their team ‘The Canny Co-operative Kurlers’.

Blind Life in Durham and the Great North Walk by our Chairman Jim Welch
2010 is the first time I have taken part, the sounds, smells and  atmosphere will be very important to me as I am registered blind. My
experience can then be used to encourage others to try similar events inthe future.Blind Life was started in 2004 to promote active lives for people with visual impairment. The emphasis has always been on what can be achieved not what can not. Myself I was in a wheelchair before quite suddenly going blind. There  were two ways to go: sink into the black depths of depression (which I
could easily have done) or find something I could do which would help  me, my family, and others.

With the help and support of my family and a few others Blind Life was born. I have learned to use a computer since going blind winning learner’s  awards for this, while other members with the group’s encouragement have also completed college courses. We are now building a skype chat group for further socialisation amongst our members. We also hold monthly social meetings, publish a monthly newsletter, have organised trips including short breaks holidays. A New Age Kurling  Group has also been started running successfully for 3 / 4 years, so
well in fact that a group have attended the World New Age Kurling  Championship.

However, we regard it as much a social occasion as a competitive sport. A survey of needs and desires was conducted in 2008 and we continue to  campaign for better treatment for visually impaired people. From access  to support when first diagnosed to longer term help as conditions and  technology changes. Simply having forms from government departments that are accessible to screen readers boosts the level of independence of someone unable to read forms for themselves ( I recently had point out  to a local government department that form specifically directed at disabled people was not accessible – they changed it!) Our part- time admin worker has done the walk for Blind Life for a number of years now (just last year he found out he is now diabetic) andI felt it was time I had a go. New Age Kurling World’s Competition 1st & 2nd May


8 members travelled to East Kilbride in Scotland to take part in the  New Age Kurling World Championships. As well as the main event there is a consolation event for those not progressing beyond the round robin stage.6 of them were entered in the singles competition on the Saturday. After competing in the round robin stage four continued through to the next round of the main event, leaving two in the consolation event, in which  one of our members reached the final, where she ended up with second place.

In the main event, two of our players reached the quarter finals, where  they had to play against one another. The victor went on to beat the reigning Singles World Champion placing third overall, giving B.L.IN.D. a tally of two trophies in the singles competition, our best result in a competition so far.

The second day of the competition was the pair’s event, which we had entered four teams for, two of our members being registered blind and in wheelchairs, assisted by their team mates for direction and guidance.  One of our other members also visually impaired reached the second round of the main event with her playing partner. We only reached the semi-final in the consolation event, so no trophies  were to be had, but never the less, we were proud of our achievements  and look forward to the next event.


Blind Kurlers snack to it! The ‘Real McCoys’ our team from Blind Life in Durham beat the Curly  Wurlys a team from Durham Councils Physical Activity Group in a thrilling deciding match. A blind awareness / fundraising challenge took place on Wed 15th July at Wolsingham Community College. The aim was to highlight the difficulties people with visual impairment face in everyday life, so the sighted  teams wore blindfolds. Eight teams took part in total which included  teams from the police, county courts, chief officials from Durham County Council and teams from Durham County Council Community physical  activity groups.

Some of the players remarked how hard it was to judge the speed and  direction to send the kurling stones and to hopefully land on the target wearing a blindfold. They realised how hard this must be for a blind  person to do and it must take a lot of concentration and practice to  master the technique of listening to the noise from the stones to interpret how fast the stones need to run to reach a target. All teams played each other blindfold, at the end two teams had equally  high scores so a play off was needed. The winners on the night were the
‘Real McCoys’ the visually impaired team.

They will have their team name inscribed on the shield kindly provided by Wolsingham Community Collegefor this annual event. Blind Life in Durham wish to thank all those who took part in this fun awareness event and for raising funds to go towards I.T equipment for our organisation. Volunteers reap Awards Blind Life received an award for contribution in the field of health  from 2D Volunteer Awards evening on 13th March 2009. A glittering  ceremony was held at the Park Head Hotel, Coundon. Individual volunteer award certificates were also given to Jim Welch our chairman, Elizabeth Newton our secretary, Jack McGrath committee member and his wife Maisie McGrath. These awards were given for their long standing dedication and hard work within our organisation.

During 2008 we not only successfully completed a county wide survey in cooperation with two other charities (see Survey 2008), we also got a CD production facility up and running with funding raised from a  charity New Age Kurling night. This means our monthly newsletter and
other information can be produced on CD, as well as tape and large print. The membership has continued to grow with more taking part in activities like the Kurling and trips to various locations, as well as the monthly social meetings. A number of members successfully completed a 4 day First Aid course, while others completed more coaching to run New Age Kurling. Computer
training continues to play a large part in our planning and development; several members are taking college courses.
Our Chairman received a Community Spirit award at prestigious evening event held at the Radisson Hotel in Durham City.

B.L.IN.D. Awards
As well as forming a New Age Kurling group we have placed various members on a number of different courses to enhance our ability to
support the organisation and each other.This year(2007) B.L.IN.D. have received two awards. One from Durham County Council Access + Awards – a commendation in the small and medium enterprises category ( we were given a star shaped silver paperweight).

The second was from 2D voluntary and community support, for the group constantly striving to promote the physical and mental well being of
members. We also received a silver tray for this. Our Chairman and Vice Treasurer both received awards from 2D as well for their commitment as volunteers with B.L.IN.D.. Jim our Chairman also gained an Adult Learners Award through his computer work.