A volunteer has received a national award after years of dedicated charity work.
George Kay has been chairman of the Macular Disease Society’s support group since 1997, and has now been awarded its prestigious Chairman’s Award in recognition of his hard work.
Macular disease (MD) is an eye condition that causes loss of central vision – the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. After MD developed in his right eye when he was 26, George’s left eye was then affected aged 56, and doctors couldn’t help.
Set up over 25 years ago, the Macular Disease Society is the only charity of its kind in Britain, and aims to build confidence and independence for those with MD.
George has helped develop the group, which now has 180 people involved, and helps to give advice and support to those affected by the condition.
He said: “I just want to try and help people. If with a bit of advice I can do my bit so people receive the right treatment or information then that’s fantastic.”
Along with his volunteer work for the society, George organises events and conferences, and has played a major role in the success of developing the “Geddes Reader” – a device which helps those with visual impairments to read.
A group of volunteers make the Geddes Readers, named after their designer 92-year-old Les Geddes, in their homes and provide them at the cost of the parts.
George said: “I first met Les at a Macular Disease Society meeting in Edinburgh, he invented the device and I saw the potential of it.
“I come from a marketing and sales background, it seems like everything I did in my working life was geared towards this in my supposed retirement.”
The reader is essentially a camera which plugs into the user’s television, magnifying captured images so they appear larger on screen. This can benefit users in various ways, from reading to eating. So far the society has sold around 14,000 readers to customers all over the world.
Robert Sykes, who nominated George for the award, said: “He always offers technical support to me and a friend in South Africa who also uses the device. He is an extremely trusting individual. Such a man is rare these days and should be honoured.”
Helen Jackman, chief executive of the Macular Disease Society, paid tribute and said: “George Kay has done extremely well to win the Chairman’s Award, we’re so grateful to him for the fantastic work he has carried out in Edinburgh.
“It’s always heartening to hear how someone has made such a difference to the lives of other people – there are some really inspiring people working within the sector and volunteering within the local community for those with visual impairments and I’m proud that we can honour them in this way.”