A KEY figurehead of a Scarborough charity is set to step down after 22 years in the role.
Viv Wright, chief officer at Scarborough Blind and Partially Sighted Society, will officially hand the reins to Jackie Dartnall-Smith next month.
However, Mrs Wright will still maintain links with the charity as a trustee and managing director of its Dean Road shop.
She said she was proud of the charity’s progress during her tenure and revealed it was the difference made to people’s lives which gave her the most pride.
She said: “It is the look on the faces of the people when you have helped them which makes everything so worthwhile.
“It is that realisation when they see that something can be done after all.
“It is so rewarding when you can offer help to people who had possibly given up.
“I just like helping people.”
Mrs Wright, who lives in Whitby, initially started at the charity as a part-time co-ordinator when it was based in Scalby Road.
She oversaw the extension of the centre and subsequent relocation to its Dean Road headquarters, which now houses a resource centre, computer suite and gym facilities.
Mrs Wright, who previously won a Pride of Whitby Award and was named a Local Hero by the Evening News’ sister paper, the Whitby Gazette, said she was inspired to help others after problems with her own sight.
She said: “When I came out of hospital, I was really upset.
“There wasn’t anyone who could support me, who could talk to me and tell me I would get better and I identified then that we needed a service to help people with what they were going through.”
Mrs Wright’s persistence and undoubted drive in her role paid dividends in 1998 when the Society bought the Dean Road premises and received £150,000 of National Lottery funding in 1999 to fund facilities including a large resource demonstration area, activity room and training kitchen, a talking lift and recording studio.
The centre was officially opened to a huge fanfare in January 2000, by former Avengers actress Honor Blackman.
Mrs Wright said the day was a memorable occasion and a reflection of the ascent made by the charity, which has been epitomised by its continued success during the last 12 years.
She added: “We have always strived to do our best to help where we can by identifying what is best for different people.
“People are just so amazed when they come in here, they cannot believe there is so much help and support available for sight problems.
“We have items on the shelves which have been there since we opened, such as the talking watch and liquid level indicator for filling cups of tea.
“However, the level of technology now is unbelievable and can make such a difference.”
She said she would be taking it easier in retirement but admitted she was looking forward to spending time doing a spot of gardening.