What does it mean to be awarded an MBE?On a personal level, I am delighted to be given this award. However, the honour has been awarded to me for services to blind and visually impaired people and I see this as a recognition of all the hard work that has been carried out by the Powell family over the years in furtherance of the work of Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT).
There has been a long family tradition of service to the charity; my great-grandfather worked with Thomas Pocklington during his lifetime, as did my grandfather Albert, who managed Thomas Pocklington’s estate before the charity was created, and my father John. My father and my late brother Anthony were trustees of TPT, as was my mother, Pat. I have been a trustee since 1983 and served as chair from 1993 to 2019. As Thomas Pocklington’s great nephew, I am just one in a long line of family members who have contributed to fulfilling his wishes. I see the award of the MBE as recognition for all of us.
“I see this as a recognition of all the hard work that has been carried out by the Powell family over the years”
In your time as chair of TPT, what have been the highlights?There have been many important milestones in TPT’s history, but the main satisfaction is seeing how the legacy left by Thomas Pocklington has been put to work in so many different ways over the years. We are living in very different times now to when the charity was first constituted and I am proud of how TPT has adapted its work to the changing needs of blind and visually impaired people today, working alongside them and our partnership organisations to deliver mutually agreed outcomes.
I am also proud that TPT has remained an independent charity since its foundation and that at the same time it is faithful to its original overall purpose, which is to support blind and partially sighted people, just as our benefactor, Thomas Pocklington, wished.
Why is the work of TPT so important?There are still many barriers in place that prevent blind and partially sighted people competing on a level playing field, for instance in the jobs market, access to higher education and in making their voice heard to ensure their needs are considered as valued members of our society. This is why the implementation of our strategy of the three ‘E’s – education, employment and engagement – is so important to achieving a society where blind and partially sighted people can participate fully. The trust is committed to increasing awareness and understanding of their needs and aspirations and to working with partners to develop and implement services that meet these needs and improve lives.
“There are still many barriers in place that prevent blind and partially sighted people competing on a level playing field”
What’s next for you?I am happy that the charity is on the right path following the re-evaluation of our strategic direction. Mervyn Williamson has recently taken on the position of chair of TPT. I am still a trustee and will continue to take a keen interest in the charity. I know it is in safe hands under his stewardship along with the invaluable contribution of the whole trustee team and its dedicated employees who put the needs of blind and partially sighted people at the centre of everything they do.
Pictured are trustees and staff at the Thomas Pocklington Trust