Second national honour awaits volunteer George

George Kay
George Kay
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A VOLUNTEER who has worked with fellow visually impaired people for 15 years is in line to claim a national award for the second successive year.

George Kay has been nominated for the Macular Disease Society’s Chairman’s Award for Volunteering, which he won in 2011.

The 79-year-old has led the Capital branch of the society’s support group since 1997, offering advice, support and friendship to people affected by macular degeneration, which affects the central vision and is the most common cause of sight loss in the UK.

He is also a key figure behind the Geddes Reader, a low-cost but high-quality device that helps people with a visual impairment to read.

George said: “It feels good to be nominated for the award again this year.

“I like being out and about, it helps to keep me occupied. I can’t play golf or drive any more so this is something I can do and also enjoy. Some people might be happy sitting at home twiddling their thumbs, but I enjoy keeping busy.

“For some people they think their life is over when they find out they have macular disease, but for me it opened up a whole host of new opportunities, I’ve been able to lead the local group, be a trustee of the charity, organise conferences and get involved with the Geddes Reader.

“Attending the group gives people the opportunity to meet others with the same condition. People relax when they are together as everyone understands each other and is in a similar position.

“People become good friends by coming along as well as getting support.

“The staff at the eye hospital are extremely busy, so we also help by offering information on the condition if people still have questions.”

John Stewart, one of the members who nominated George, said: “He does an excellent job of running the Macular Disease Society support group in Edinburgh, organising the monthly meetings and arranging interesting and relevant speakers. He devotes the major part of his spare time to all the activities involved in leading the group.

“He is very friendly and welcoming to all existing members and newcomers. I admire George very much for all he puts into the group and feel he does indeed deserve this award.”

Judges will announce the winner of this year’s award at the society’s annual London conference on September 22.

Helen Jackman, chief executive of the Macular Disease Society, said: “George Kay has done exceptionally well to be nominated for this award, and we’re very grateful to him for the fantastic work he has carried out in Edinburgh.

“It’s always heartening to hear how people have made such a difference to the lives of others.

“There are some really inspiring people working within the sector and volunteering within the local community. I’m proud that we can honour them.”