A LOCAL club for visually impaired people has marked its 80th anniversary with a special lunchtime celebration.

Members and volunteers from Launceston Visually Impaired Lunch Club gathered at The Anglers Rest in St Giles on the Heath, to enjoy a two-course meal, plus entertainment from local bellringers and a male voice choir.

The sun was shining for the celebration and the room was filled with balloons, banners, and bright decorations to help make the event feel special for all of those invited to mark the occasion — including current members and volunteers as well as some special guests who were previously involved in making the club such a success. 

The club was founded in 1944 by local sight loss charity iSightCornwall, known at the time as Cornwall County Association for the Blind, as a way for local blind and partially sighted people to socialise.  The club quickly grew and as well as holding monthly socials, the club formed a team of bellringers who would perform at events around the county. 

To reflect this part of the club’s history, the Lewtrenchard Handbell Ringers kindly came and performed a number of songs including ‘Kumbaya’ which guests happily sang along to. 

Whilst today’s members no longer play the bells, they continue to meet for lunch twice a month thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers who arrange the meals and drive members to and from the venues. 

iSightCornwall chief executive, Carole Theobald, said: “Our group of volunteers really are invaluable, we wouldn’t be able to run this club or indeed any of our social and activity clubs without those people who donate their time to us and to the clubs. 

“One of the biggest challenges for people experiencing sight loss is isolation or loneliness and we’ve seen firsthand the difference going to a club can make to someone by giving them the opportunity to meet new people. The fact that the Launceston Visually Impaired Club has been going for 80 years is a testament to how well-loved the club is and how dedicated the volunteers are.” 

Launceston Visually Impaired Lunch Club is reportedly the longest running club for people with sight loss in Cornwall as well as one of the largest with more than 60 people attending the celebration to mark the club’s rich history. The iSightCornwall team members also attended the event and relished the opportunity to catch up with other club members and volunteers both past and present.  

Carole added: “It was a wonderful occasion to be part of and I’d like to say a special thank you to club volunteers Paul and Jill Raftry who helped organise the day and worked so hard to make the celebration such a huge success.”