Eye condition campaigner is a national hero

Leonard Sharpe (front) with Bridget Scase, Tina Lunn, Gill Collie, Peggy Smith, Pam Francis, Margaret McLean, Janet Herbert, Karen Driver and Ian Price at a Macular Society open day in Market Place, Spalding.

The leader of a support group for people with poor eyesight in Spalding has been recognised by a national charity.

Leonard Sharpe (84), leader of Spalding Macular Society Support Group, was presented with the Chairman’s Award for Volunteering at the society’s annual conference in London.

Leonard Sharpe is presented with the Macular Society Chairman's Award for Volunteering by Richard Elliott, chairman of the Macular Society's board of trustees. Photo supplied.

Mr Sharpe is also involved with support groups in Boston and Lincoln, as well as Spalding where he took part in an age-related macular degeneration (AMD) open day last Tuesday.

“I feel honoured to have been selected but it’s not just me,” Mr Sharpe said.

“It’s our secretary, treasurer and the members of the support group who make it all work.

“I’ve been a member of the Macular Society for ten years but I’ve not been a group leader for very long.

“I had the names of people in the Spalding area who were members of the Macular Society and saw there were plenty of them.

“But only one was coming to our meetings in Boston so I spoke to the support and development manager for our area who was keen to start a new group in Spalding.

“I supported that but we don’t have anyone to take the group leader’s role.

“So I’m temporary group leader until we find somebody else.”

Mr Sharpe was diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration, a condition where the part of the eye responsible for central vision is scarred due to leaking blood vessels, in 1989.

Before running the Spalding group, Mr Sharpe set up the Boston group in April 2012 and works as a Telephone 
Befriender to people unable to attend a group because of 
illness or disability.

Mr Sharpe said: “The groups are about supporting people and providing them with somewhere to go where they can talk to other 
people who have the same problem.

“A lot of people who are diagnosed with AMD live on their own, which makes it worse, and this is why I’m so dedicated to the charity, as well as having wet AMD myself.

“We want to keep the support group going in Spalding because it gets a lot of backing, but we really need someone to come out of the woodwork who can take the group forward.”

The group’s next meeting is at St Thomas’s Road Methodist Church, Spalding, on Tuesday at 1.30pm and for more details, call Mr Sharpe on 01205 750540.

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