Kingston Upon Thames Association for the Blind

Winter 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to the 46th edition of Eye Opener!

Since our last newsletter in April, we have had an almost complete change in the Officers of the Board, with a new Chair - Martin Gale, Treasurer – Anne White (Spong), Secretary – Ellie Mayor and Vice Chair – Kevin White; we welcome them all to their new appointments and wish them every success. Our thanks go to our previous Officers, Adrian Munt and Phil Margree for all their many years of voluntary service and we wish them all the best for the future. We also thank Sheila Austin and Philip Indge, who retired as Trustees earlier this year and more recently Jake van Es. Martin reports further on the next page.

In June KAB were delighted to reopen the office and start work on getting the clubs and activities running again, which we are pleased to say are now all operational. Social Eyes have also had two wonderful outings to Kew Gardens, since July, and we are thankful to Kew Gardens for the community tickets provided. Everyone enjoyed the Land Train, the Palm House, the Rose Gardens, the delicious refreshments and getting out about again, and catching up with friends in person.

May and September saw us raising awareness at Surbiton Farmers’ Market and in Kingston’s Ancient Market for Disability Day, respectively. Our thanks go to Surbiton Market for their continued support and to the organisers of the Disability Day. It was great to meet up and chat to so many of the public and other local organisations.

We hope you enjoy reading the news and articles within this publication! If you receive a paper copy of this newsletter and would prefer to receive it by email, please let the office know. We’d love to hear from you if you have any interesting stories or articles for future editions!

Chair’s Report

Dear KAB Members,

Since being elected Chairperson at the AGM in June, KAB’s financial position has been less than desirable and we have been doing all we can to address the situation. The regular grants we have gratefully received in the past from the Vision Foundation (formerly known as the Greater London Fund for the Blind) were valuable to KAB, as they enabled us to run the office, pay staff costs, services and activities but come April 2022 they come to an end. Although we have funds in reserve, these will not last forever, which means KAB must find more funding and look at ways to cut costs and save money.

The quickest and easiest way to resolve financial problems is to save money, as looking for new funding and donations takes time and is a job best done by someone with the know-how and necessary skill set. Our first action to save money is to relocate to a modern ground floor office space in the Quaker Centre in Kingston, and the office is preparing to move premises in December. The new office is close to bus and train stations. It is bright and spacious and as it is on the ground level, it offers access to all.

Unfortunately, we are also saying goodbye to staff members: Lisa left us at the end of August and Vanessa is leaving at the end of November, and Jean, KAB’s Office Manager, is retiring at the end of the month too, it saddens us to see them all go!

I would like to take this time to thank Jean for her many years of dedication and hard work. She has been a bright light at KAB and we appreciate how much of herself she has given to the organisation. Thank you for always giving all of your heart. I would also like to thank Vanessa for the years she has given us with the same big heart and dedication. Although we will be saying goodbye to Jean and are sad to see her go, we have recruited a new manager, Mariza Jurgens, who started on the 12th of October. Mariza has vast fundraising experience, know-how and definitely the skill set KAB need. An introduction from Mariza follows this report.

Things are moving along slowly but we are starting to get a better picture of what the future holds and how to move forward. I would love to be able to say that I know exactly what to say and do as the Chairman, but I am not a mind reader. What I can do, is talk to people and answer questions. I would love to hear all of the questions and comments relating to our projects such as the Social Eyes, Lunch Club, Lawn Bowls and Ten Pin Bowling. I will listen and see how we can work together to make things happen and succeed.

I would like to invite you all to consider whether you have a friend or relative who may make a good volunteer, eye buddy, or driver. If you think of anyone who would like to get involved, please let us know.

With Kindest Regards
Martin Gale.

An Introduction to the new Charity Manager of KAB by Mariza Jurgens

I started working at KAB on 12 October 2021 to learn from Jean, who is leaving KAB after 12 years of service with distinction.
I currently serve on the London Sight Loss Council, on the Centenary Appeals Board of the Vision Foundation, the Board of Trustees of Merton Vision, and on the Professional Advisory Panel of the Commonwealth Future.
I have a long career in advocacy and campaigning in the Sight Loss Sector being severely visually impaired. I am a long-cane user and currently on the waiting list for a guide dog.
I enjoy fundraising, and you will often see me when I attend the activities of KAB to join right in alongside the members. I enjoy playing Lawn Bowls for the Visually Impaired, and was recently selected to represent England in this sport, and will in future be the activity leader of the KAB Lawn Bowls Club.
I’m looking forward to working at KAB and please give me a call or drop in a chat and a cup of coffee or tea, when passing.
With Kindest Regards
Mariza Jurgens.


As Martin said earlier, KAB is going through a challenging time and it is vital that we continue to raise funds from a number of different sources. If any of you have links to bodies or undertakings, commercial or otherwise, who might be willing to give us a grant, please let us know. Below are some ways that you might like to support us, or share with your family and friends.

Gifts in Wills we know your family and friends are your priority but after you’ve made provision for loved ones, maybe you would consider supporting Kingston Association for the Blind by leaving us a gift in you Will? Leaving a legacy is one of the best ways to ensure that local services for the blind continue in the Royal Borough of Kingston. You can either allocate a fixed amount or choose to give us the amount remaining in your estate, after all other bequests and expenses have been paid. It is easy to arrange and if you have already written your Will you can easily add a line within it, called a codicil. KAB, would always recommend using a solicitor, over a ‘Will Writing Service’, or a ‘Do It Yourself Kit’.

Co-op ‘Good Causes’

KAB is pleased to inform you that they have been selected as one of three local charities to be supported by the Co-op’s ‘Good Causes’. Members of the store are encouraged to buy own-branded goods, of which 2 pence of every 1 pound spent will be donated to the local charities and the Co-op Foundation.

If you are not a member yet, you can join by visiting your local Co-op store, calling 0800 023 4708, or visiting the cost is 1 pound. Once you are registered and having received your temporary card instore, or your permanent card through the post, you can choose your charity by calling 0800 023 4708, selecting option one and asking for help in choosing your favourite charity, which we hope will be Kingston Association for the Blind. Alternatively, if you have the Co-op app on your smart phone or tablet you can choose your favourite charity from there. Apart from the 2 pence that you will be donating to your favourite charity, you will be earning 2 pence rewards for every pound spent on your card.
Please also encourage friends and families living further afield to choose Kingston Association for the Blind as their favourite charity.

Kingston Community Lottery

Kingston Community Lottery is an exciting weekly lottery that raises money for 'good causes' in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, and KAB is delighted to let you know you can now support them as your 'good cause', by visiting the website that follows:

If you find the link inaccessible, or you do not have the internet and
you would like to play, and support KAB, please contact the office for assistance by calling 020 8605 0060. Tickets cost just 1 pound a week. Each ticket has a 1 in 50 chance to win a prize each week, with a top prize of £25,000. That's a better chance of winning than the National Lottery, or the Health Lottery. Each ticket has six numbers and each number is between 0 and 9. There will be a draw every Saturday night when a six digit winning combination will be picked. Prizes will be given to players with tickets that match the first or last 2 to 6 numbers from the winning combination. All 'good causes' supported by the lottery will benefit the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and its residents. We hope you'll support us in making KAB even better, and have some fun along the way!

A gentle reminder, especially with Christmas approaching, KAB is registered with both Amazon Smile and Easy Fundraising; by using their Apps to shop and selecting Kingston Association for the Blind as your chosen charity, we will receive a small donation from your shop.

Or, if you would like to make a 'one-off' donation, please download the form by clicking on the link below:

Thank you so much if you have remembered us already!


Getting out and about has relaxed considerably over the past few weeks but COVID-19 hasn’t gone away! KAB continues to work with Kingston’s Public Health Team and recently welcomed the Community Testing Team to our Social Eyes and Lunch Club groups. After a quick chat about Lateral flow tests (LFT); intended for picking up additional infected cases that would otherwise be missed by having no symptoms, a number of VIs and helpers volunteered to be tested. Even our Des, at the amazing age of 101, was tested! KAB is very grateful to the team, who were unobtrusive and didn’t interrupt the members’ valuable activity time; it was very worthwhile. Incidentally, we all tested negative! LFT kits are available from the Market House in the Ancient Market Square, Kingston and from various pharmacies throughout the borough.
If you have any symptoms of the virus, however slight, it is important you are PCR tested. Walk-in and pre-booked appointments are available at local test sites listed below. You can book a test by calling 119 or alternatively, visit Assistance to book or take a test is available, and if you need any advice or help, please call the office on 020 8605 0060. By getting tested as soon as you have symptoms, you can help stop the spread of the virus and help keep your family, friends and the whole community safe.
• Milner Road, Kingston, KT1 2AB (behind County Hall)
• Hawker Centre, Kingston, KT2 5BH
• Cocks Crescent, New Malden, KT3 4AH
If you test positive for COVID-19 Kingston’s Stronger Together Community Response Hub can support you if you don’t have friends, family or trusted people available locally to call upon. For further information telephone Kingston council on 020 8547 5000, or visit
With two viruses in circulation this year, it is more important than ever for those who are eligible to have the COVID-19 booster and the flu vaccine this winter. This will help reduce the number of people becoming unwell, as both viruses can develop into a serious illness which may mean you need to go to hospital. In fact, research shows that if you get both flu and COVID-19 at the same time you are more likely to get seriously ill. Both vaccines help to protect people from the worst outcomes, whilst reducing the spread of the viruses and helping to protect your family, friends and the wider community.
The History of Talking Books & RNIB Giveaway!

Talking Books

Talking Books are read by tens of thousands of blind and partially sighted people and it all started in 1935 when the RNIB began providing books to war-blinded soldiers. Thousands lost their sight on the battlefields and returned home no longer able to read. Many found braille difficult to learn and others had injured their hand so they could not feel the dots. Captain Ian Fraser lost his sight after being shot in the face at the Battle of the Somme. One day, in frustration, he said “if books could only talk!” RNIB and Blind Veterans spent the next decade experimenting with different reading machines. One machine they considered converted a book’s letters in musical tones, but all of these solutions were rejected as they were too slow, too difficult to use, or too expensive. None of the gramophone companies made records that played for longer than 5 minutes. So, over a decade before the birth of the LP, Fraser’s team successfully created a record that could play for 25 minutes each side by narrowing the shellac grooves and playing at a reduced speed. Over the years that followed RNIB pushed on with their evolution of the Talking Book, making the move from gramophone records to tape in 1960. In the 1990s they helped lead the transition from analogue to digital Talking Books. In 2014, they began to offer books on memory sticks and later launched a digital download service which provided access to more than 20,000 titles directly to a smartphone or tablet. In 2021, they created an Alexa Skill, so you can now listen to Talking Books on Alexa-enabled devices.

To celebrate the launch of the Talking Books Library on Alexa, RNIB are giving away 3,000 Amazon Echo’s (smart speakers). If you are interested and meet the criteria, once you have received your Amazon Echo and set it up, all you have to say is “Alexa, open RNIB Talking Books” to access thousands of titles. Terms and conditions do apply and you must meet the following criteria; be blind or partially sighted, a UK resident, not currently own an Echo device, be connected to the internet, have an email address, have a smart phone, tablet or computer access, necessary to enable the device; this may be via friends or family if not personally owned, be for your own personal use, the device is not for resale and there is only one device per customer. If you would like to register your interest in the offer, please contact the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999.

If you are successful in receiving this offer, you’ll also be able to listen to the weekly recordings of Kingston Talking News via the smart speaker!

What’s On

Kingston Christmas Market 2021 spreading across the Ancient Market Place, Church Street and Clarence Street, Kingston’s popular Christmas Market has returned, adding a special touch of festive cheer to the town.
Throughout the traditional wooden cabins, discover a treasure trove of unique and handmade giftware, perfect for stocking fillers and unusual gifts. Bars will be serving mulled wine and they’ll be plenty of classic street-food on offer too.

Eden Crafts Alpine Village for a truly unique Christmas Shopping experience, visit Eden Crafts market at the front of All Saints Church. In the marquee you’ll find personalised gifts, handmade crafts and much more. Both of these markets are open until 24th December, 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday and 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. The bars and food stalls will remain open until 31st December, 2021.

The Rose Theatre is holding an audio described performance and touch tour of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ on Saturday 18th December. The performance starts at 11.30 a.m., the Rose Theatre need to confirm the touch tour time. This beloved fairy tale is brought to the stage with toe-tapping songs, heart-warming characters and, of course, a touch of festive magic. This new adaptation features a wealth of local talent from the Rose Youth Theatre, who will perform alongside an established professional cast. For more information and to book telephone the box office 020 8174 0090, or email the Access Manager,
Malden Community Farmers’ Market – Saturday 4 December – a food and craft market that supports local charities, New Malden High Street, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
First in Tolworth Market - Sunday 5 December - a food and craft market on the slip road, opposite Our Lady Immaculate Church, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Surbiton Farmers’ Market - Saturday 18 December - this award-winning market is all about fantastic food, a true sense of community and supporting local charities, held on Maple Road, Surbiton, from 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 pm.

With Warmest Wishes for a Merry Christmas and Prosperous 2022!

Distributed November 2021
This document is printed on Recycled Paper and is published and promoted by
Kingston Association for the Blind - Charity Registration Number 249295

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