Help to sight-impaired rewarded

Joan Kernaghan (left) and Marion Wilson talk about their success at the New Zealand Blind Foundation Star Awards. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Joan Kernaghan (left) and Marion Wilson talk about their success at the New Zealand Blind Foundation Star Awards. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Helping others losing their sight through sharing her own experiences has won Dunedin woman Joan Kernaghan a national Blind Foundation award.

Mrs Kernaghan (81), who is legally blind, received the volunteer award at the annual Star Awards in Auckland recently for her work as host of the Dunedin new members group for the past nine years.

''Joan is always warm and caring and is a most wonderful role model of the 'there is life after blindness' philosophy,'' judges said.

She lost all but light and colour perception about 15 years ago due to detached retinas and found great support at the foundation, she said.

''I might not be able to drive a car or do my needlework but I'd be lost without my audio books. I live alone and cook my meals.''

Shoulder-tapped for her role, Mrs Kernaghan said she had never looked back as she found it very satisfying to see new members grow in confidence - ''to see them realise it's not the end of the world''.

As host of the three-week course, she helped show people the practical things that could make their lives easier.

''It's the silly little things like using the phone or how full to fill a cup.''

Dunedin's client services rehabilitation team won the team section.

It was recognised for its experience, ''huge work ethic'' and ability to ''just get on with the job of providing quality services to clients in a large geographical area'', the judges said.

Team member Marion Wilson, a child and family social worker and counsellor, said the team comprised staff working in areas such as mobility, jobs, counselling and daily living.

They covered an area from Timaru to Invercargill and were known for ''going the extra mile'', she said.

Mrs Kernaghan said those who used foundation services were very fortunate to have staff with such dedication.

''They're amazing, truly.''

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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