With Mother’s Day nearly upon us, I thought it would be nice to hear all about a super-mum, in this months INSPIRATIONAL MEMBER OF THE VI COMMUNITY OF THE MONTH feature. Before finding out more about Laura Hughes, here we have the words of the lovely members of Moorvision, a VI parent and child support group founded by Laura in January 2007. Laura is now the voluntary group coordinator and treasurer. I think what they all had to say speaks for itself… Laura Hughes is one truly inspirational lady and a force to be reckoned with!
“I met Laura years ago, and have always found her so open with her time and experience. Her work with Moorvision has helped create a wonderfully supportive group of people. We have been lucky enough to attend 2 weekends at The Calvert Trust with Moorvision, through Laura’s hard work fundraising and getting grants, and they have been absolutely the best times for our family. Huge memories have been made.”
– Sarah Murray
“We first met Laura a couple of years ago when we first joined Moorvision and she created the friendly welcoming atmosphere that still exists now. She is always there with help and advice even when I’m sure she must have other things on her mind. The tireless work she puts in should never be underestimated and the Moorvision group will only continue to grow thanks to her hard work kindness”-Chris Nixson
“I have known Laura since the start of Moorvision and we’ve seen it grow together. She came into my life before we even had a proper diagnosis for our daughter, when as a family we felt lost and alone. Laura opened up our world and I want to say how she deserves so much for what she does for everyone. She is our rock and we no longer feel lost or alone!!!”
– Christina Ward
“Laura is our rock, our inspiration. She has given us and our children the chance to meet and grow together. Even when we know she is bogged down with her own life she never stops fighting for those she cares about. Our world and definitely (excuse the wording) our children’s worlds would be so much darker and scary without having her guidance. I’m so glad she is being recognised for this.” Carole Butler
“Laura works tirelessly for the benefit of others. She is a wealth of information on a range of VI issues. The time and effort she puts in to organising events for our families is simply outstanding. Her efforts are very much valued and appreciated by all members.”
“Laura is an amazing lady, she never stops looking after and working for others, she is just wonderful. She has helped so many people overcome there fears and anxieties for the future. She is a star and deserves massive recognition for it.”-Cerez Doyle
“Laura is just a totally amazing lady. She created Moorvision because she wanted to reach out to other families with visually impaired children. It has been a life line for my family. We love meeting up with the group who provide inspiration, support and guidance to us when we are feeling lost and afraid of the future for our little girl. Laura is our leader, our friend and our rock despite all that she has to manage in her own life. We are very lucky to have her in our lives.”
– Jane Ring
“Laura is an incredible lady! It meant so much to our family to have found Moorvision and when we first got in touch, Laura gave me so much valuable advice and support. It has been wonderful to have the chance to meet other VI families and to share the journey. Feel very lucky to have Moorvision and Laura in our lives”- Jo Budd
“Everybody knows how much work mum puts in to Moorvision, and everything else for that matter! People who know her well see the emails at half past one in the morning, the panic when the newsletters arrive late, and all the organising! But I, as her daughter, get to see even more (excuse the pun). I hear her up and about at all hours of the morning, sending emails, booking trips, re-sending emails because of our terrible internet connection, researching something for somebody. AND THEN she gets up in the morning and does all the things that have to be done in the day time, phoning people, more emails, courses, and then does all the normal things like hospital appointments, school meetings (okay, not quite normal!), holidays, arrangements for Tom to meet friends, shopping, cooking etc.
When I was eight, she set up Moorvision because she realised I hadn’t met another visually impaired child. Who would have thought that it would grow so large from there?! Now every child in the group can say ‘I’ve got friends who are just like me!’ and I think that’s pretty amazing. But knowing my mum, I wouldn’t have expected anything less.”
– Tiri Hughes (Laura’s Daughter)
“Ok… So when I first found out my daughter was v/ I I felt completely alone ! Until I found out about the amazing Laura and Moorvision!! She spent about 1.5 hrs on the phone to me! Talking through all the help/support and benefits I could get for my child! She invited me along to a conference where I met a lot of the lovely Moorvision family’s!!! What can I say… Without it I couldn’t of coped and got through the early days of finding out was child was partially sighted! I would also like to use this opportunity to thank everyone at Moorvision for being so lovely!”- Anna Dunn
So now over to the lady herself!
1. Firstly Laura can you tell me a little bit about yourself…. name, family information, location, job, and hobbies.
Laura Hughes. Married to Hywel, children Tiri 15 registered partially sighted and Tom 12 just generally a nutty little boy! Live on Dartmoor in South Devon. Work part time for RNIB as a transcription officer, am a grade 2 Braillist. I run Moorvision voluntarily in my spare time. Hobbies – swimming, gardening and chocolate.
2. Can you tell me some information about Moorvision…. what inspired you to start the group, how long it has been running for, what type of activities you organise, what is your role within the group, how many families are currently members of the group, what type of support do you offer parents.
When Tiri was about 7 years old, she started to feel that she didn’t quite fit in anywhere and we realised, especially living in this rural area, that she had never met another blind or VI child. I wanted to do something about this and promised her that as soon as her little brother went to school, I would. So in late 2006, I approached the local Council for Voluntary Services and they put me on a course about managing charities and helped me find a start up grant. I applied for £1,000 and received £1,600 – a sign of things to come! I went on a weekend course run by the council for parents of VI children and found my first 5 families. They all joined the committee and we had our first meeting in April 2007 and started from there. Within a year we had 23 families and now nearly 7 years later we have 95 families from all over Devon and some from the adjoining counties.
We organise one or two residential family weekends every year including outdoor pursuits and tactile art and crafts. We also hold 8 – 10 day activities every year including audio described theatre trips, sports days, swimming galas, art and craft workshops, bowling, theme parks, pizza making, Sight Village trips, Christmas parties etc. All of our activities are based around the whole family and siblings are always welcome.
We also offer parents evenings, advice and information, sign posting and help with Braille learning including funding for Braille learning packs.
I am the group coordinator and treasurer. We also have a management committee who advise and support me in all I do.
3. What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of running Moorvision?
I find that getting our VI children together, seeing them look so relaxed and happy with each other, watching them attempt new activities and challenges and learn from each other is so rewarding. Also watching families make friends with other families and watching the siblings being fully included and having some time for themselves is so worthwhile. Seeing children who have never used a cane using one because the ‘big children’ have them is always a special moment.
I love running Moorvision and it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done outside of having my own family. The children and families we support are amazing and I have met some of the most wonderful people and made some friends I will treasure for life through the group.
4. Do you feel that you and your family have benefitted by running Moorvision?
We have all really benefited – Tiri as she has met so many other VI young people, Tom because he has had a chance to also make friends and let off steam and be included in everything we do and both Hywel and I who have met so many wonderful people.
5. Why do think its important to raise awareness of the issues faced by visually impaired children?
VI children are in what I call a double minority. Within the world of sight loss they only make up a tiny percentage of blind and VI people – 95% are over the age of 65. Within the world of childhood disability, sight loss is one of the rarest disabilities and even within the disability world, the needs of VI children are often overlooked. Most of our VI children are the only one in their school and although mainstream education can work well, for those it doesn’t it can be a very lonely experience.
6. What other involvement other than the Moorvision do you have with the VI community?
As well as my transcription role in RNIB, I am also on the editorial board of RNIB Insight magazine, a member of the Plymouth Low Vision Practioner’s group and a parent representative on Devon Parent Partnership. Our group has formed very good relationships with RNIB, Action for Blind People, NBCS, VICTA, LOOK, WESC Foundation, New College Worcester, RNC Hereford and many other groups.
8. We originally met at the VICTA Family Weekend, do you attend/support any other events of a similar nature with your children?
Tiri has been on a number of Action residential trips and we have been as a family on NBCS and LOOK weekends in the past.
9. Is their anything exciting in the pipeline with Moorvision?
Yes. We are holding our first ever major fundraising event – an evening Barn Dance on Sat June 14th and hope that EVERYONE will come!!
10. If you had any words of wisdom to share with parents or carers who are raising visually impaired children what would they be?
To not take no for an answer when it comes to any aspect of your child’s education, social or health needs and to seek the appropriate support to stand up for what you think is right for your child if you are having problems. To have as much fun as possible with your child and children!
11. If there are any parents out there who are inspired by what you have done with Moorvision and would like to set up something similar in their own area do you have any advice?
Starting Moorvision was not as difficult as I thought it would be and there are grants available for similar groups. Check first that your local County association for the blind doesn’t cover children’s services as some do. Find a small group of like minded parents and begin small and then watch it grow. Ask me for advice – I have printed material on just about everything you need to know and am happy to share policies etc with anyone wanting to start something similar.
12. Anything else you would like to add that we have not already covered….
Just hearing Charlotte, one of our MV children, then 6, declare at the end of an evening event: “This has been a most spectacular evening.” Will always stay with me.
Thank you to Laura for agreeing to take part in this feature, I think you are doing a great job and many parents will be inspired by what you do…. your truly personify the ethos I am trying to get for the Throughscarlettseyes.com website!