Award honour for volunteer Charlie

Charlie Bennett
Charlie Bennett

A man from Kirkcudbright has been recognised for his work as a volunteer for the Macular Society.

Charlie Bennett is one of the nominees for this year’s Macular Society Awards for Excellence. Charlie has been shortlisted in the Chairman’s Award for Volunteering category for his commitment and dedication in raising awareness of macular disease and supporting people with macular conditions.

Former police officer Charlie began volunteering for the Macular Society after being diagnosed with macular degeneration in 2013. Since then, he has trained in a wide range of volunteer roles. He acts as a speaker, talking to a wide range of groups all over Dumfries and Galloway to raise the profile of macular disease. He is a qualified Skills for seeing trainer, teaching people with macular conditions techniques to make the most of their remaining vision. He also acts as a telephone befriender, providing friendship to people with macular disease and helping them to rebuild confidence and independence.

In addition, Charlie and wife Elizabeth are heavily involved with the Dumfries Macular Support Group, acting as the group’s secretary and treasurer respectively. The group, which meets on the last Wednesday of every month in the town at St George’s Hall, George Street, offers information, encouragement and friendship to people with macular degeneration.

Charlie said: “It’s a really lovely surprise to have been shortlisted for this award. When I was first diagnosed, it was a real shock as I’d never had any health problems at all. However, I quickly decided I wanted to find out as much about macular disease as I could and to share my knowledge with others.

“I’ve been volunteering for around four and a half years now and it’s very satisfying. I think it really helps that I’m able to share my personal experiences – it does make a big difference when I’m talking to individuals or groups because they know I understand what it’s like to live with a macular condition.”

The Macular Society is the national charity for anyone affected by central vision loss. It has more than 350 support groups across the UK, which help to increase the confidence and independence of people affected by macular disease. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of sight loss in the UK, affecting more than 600,000 people. More people are affected as our population ages, and it is estimated that by 2050, around 1.3 million people will have AMD.

Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, said: “All of our volunteers do a tremendous job in helping people all over the UK with macular disease, and our annual awards give us an opportunity to say thank you to them for all that they do.

“Charlie is no exception and thoroughly deserves this nomination. He has worked tirelessly to help people with macular conditions in his local community. It’s only right that his efforts should be recognised in this way.”

For more information about the Awards for Excellence or macular degeneration, please call the Macular Society’s helpline on 0300 3030 111 or email help@macularsociety.org.