Unsung hero: praise for volunteer who reads to the blind
Kingston Association for the Blind has praised a long-serving volunteer it calls its “little handyman.”
Grandfather John Johnson, 67, has spent a decade reading newspapers aloud, taking people shopping and changing light bulbs for the blind.
The retired former Thames Water employee volunteers for the weekly eye buddies scheme that helps blind people with day-to-day activities.
He said: “I feel that the help I can give means something – you can see a difference. I feel a sense of belonging and I find it very rewarding.”
Mr Johnson also helps with a fortnightly social club for networking and a lawn balls sporting club for bowlers.
One of the things that amazes him the most is the quality of art that can be produced by people without good vision.
He said: “I hate the word blind. I prefer visually impaired. Most people can see a little bit and some cannot see – there is a whole range of levels.
“But some people amaze me. They produce artwork that is beyond belief.”
Over his time as a volunteer Mr Johnson recalled a friend who loved to be taken on long walks by the Thames.
He said: “He would love to sit down on a bench, but in the summer the seats would always be full and somehow crowds would move apart and we would always have a seat. We called it the power of the stick.
“You do become friendly and build up trust over time.”
Mr Johnson, who lives in King Charles Crescent in Surbiton, first got involved in volunteering about 10 years ago when he was given a flyer by Kingston Association for the Blind while shopping in Surbiton.
Hazel Hillman from the Kingston Association for the Blind said: “He is a little handyman. He goes around changing batteries and light bulbs. He is fantastic and always happy to help.
“We were lucky to find him. He is not someone that sings his own praises. We need to clone him.”
In his spare time the dedicated volunteer and father-of-three enjoys brewing beer at home and often competes with his son in a best brew challenge.
To nominate your unsung hero call 020 8744 4244.