Leader of national blind charity honoured

January 6, 2010

The President of the Macular Disease Society (MDS), Gwyneth Dickinson, has been awarded the MBE in the UK's New Year's Honours. Mrs Dickinson, a former nurse, is honoured for her voluntary work as a trustee, Chairman and now President of the Society.

The President of the Macular Disease Society (MDS), Gwyneth Dickinson, has been awarded the MBE in the UK’s New Year’s Honours. Mrs Dickinson, a former nurse, is honoured for her voluntary work as a trustee, Chairman and now President of the Society.

She joined the Society in 1997 when she was herself diagnosed with macular disease.

Then the MDS was a small and struggling charity with around 4000 members and 70 local support groups. Few people had even heard of macular degeneration even though it is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK. Gwyneth immediately began working to improve care for people with MD in her area.

She became a trustee of the national Society soon after and was appointed Chairman in 2002 in recognition of her wisdom, good judgement and leadership. Gwyneth’s commitment to the Society grew from her own frustration at the lack of help for people with MD.

“I was devastated when I was told I had MD. I had never heard of it and I was a nurse. Initially I was very miserable but I am not one to let things get to me. I think the only way to deal with it is to get more information and get on with life.”

She found it hard to get information until she found the MDS and started attending local support group meetings.

She says: “I am very proud of the MDS and its volunteers and staff. My proudest moment came in August 2008 when the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence finally approved a treatment for one form of MD. We and the RNIB had campaigned for several years for this treatment to be available so that people did not have to lose their sight. It was a great achievement.

“I feel that people with MD now have a voice in the form of the Macular Disease Society. Life for people newly diagnosed with MD is still very tough but it is made much more bearable by the Society.”

Helen Jackman, MDS CEO said: “We are delighted that Gwyneth's enormous contribution to the cause of people with MD has been recognised. She is a tremendous leader and inspiring motivator of staff and volunteers and has made a huge difference to the lives of many thousands of people with MD”

For more information on macular disease please call the MDS Helpline on +44 (0)845 241 2041 or visit www.maculardisease.org

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