Mark takes over as Royal Blind chief

Mark ODonnell takes up his new role at the end of July. Picture: Chris Watt
Mark ODonnell takes up his new role at the end of July. Picture: Chris Watt
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Scotland’s largest visual impairment organisation has announced the appointment of a new chief executive.

Mark O’Donnell will take up the role at Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded, which are together known as Royal Blind Group, at the end of July.

Mr O’Donnell, currently chief executive of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, will take over from Richard Hellewell, who will be retiring this Summer after ten years at the helm.

Mr O’Donnell will preside over the creation of 150 new roles in Paisley at Royal Blind’s new care home for visually impaired older people and Scottish War Blinded’s activity and support centre this autumn.

A graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Mr O’Donnell has extensive experience in health and social care in the charitable and public sectors and is a former deputy director in health and social care at the Scottish Government.

He has also held senior positions at the Scottish Ambulance Service and MS Society.

Mr O’Donnell said, “I am truly delighted to be joining Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded. It is a huge privilege to take over from Richard Hellewell as chief executive of such a respected and important organisation with a strong reputation for excellence and person-centred services.

“It is a particularly exciting time to join with an expansion of services under way.

“I look forward to working with everyone connected to the organisation to make sure the next chapter in the organisation’s history is a great success.”

Royal Blind is Scotland’s largest charity supporting people with visual impairments, running a number of services for partially sighted people including the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh.

Scottish War Blinded provides free support to veterans of the armed forces who have a visual impairment sustained either in conflict or subsequently to their service, helping them with rehabilitation and social opportunities across the country.

Gwenn McCreath, chair of Royal Blind, thanked Mr Hellewell for his leadership over the past decade and looked forward to a bright future under Mr O’Donnell.

She said: “Mark is joining Royal Blind at an exciting time in our development and we look forward to his leadership. He brings a wealth of experience of leading and managing charities and of working on social and health care policy and service delivery.

“We thank Richard Hellewell for leading Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded for the last decade.

“Under Richard’s leadership the charities modernised and grew their services, expanding our reach to many more visually impaired people of all ages.

“The board wishes him all the best in his retirement.”