A Worthing woman who suffers from age-related macular degeneration has been shortlisted for a national award for her volunteer work and dedication to supporting people with the condition.
For the second time, Pat Clemow is one of the finalists in the Macular Society Awards for Excellence, having been nominated for the Chairman’s Award for Volunteering both this year and in 2017.
The ophthalmology department at Goring Hall Hospital has also been shortlisted for an award, in the Clinical Service of the Year category. Pat runs a practical advice and information helpdesk there, having set it up in 2015 to support people with macular disease.
Pat said: “It’s lovely to have been nominated again. I really enjoy all of the volunteering activities I do for the Macular Society and it’s so rewarding.
“It also helps raise awareness of macular disease and why it’s so important that a cure is urgently found.”
Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK and AMD is the most common form. There is no cure and the disease can leave people unable to drive, read or see faces.
Pat was diagnosed with AMD in 2000 and no longer has central vision. She is committed to supporting people with macular disease and is celebrating her tenth year as leader of the Worthing Area Macular Support Group, which holds meetings at Sight Support Worthing’s headquarters and at Rustington Manor Hotel.
As a Skills for Seeing trainer, Pat helps people learn techniques to make the most of their remaining vision and uses the same techniques herself.
She said: “I find that having experienced the problems people commonly have when they’re diagnosed with macular disease, it reassures them that I’ve been there and I get what they’re talking about.
“And I find I learn a lot from the people I’m there to help too, especially in how they live their lives with sight loss.”
Pat also acts as a Gadget Guide volunteer, demonstrating equipment and technology which can make day-to-day life easier for people with the disease.
She said: “When I was first registered, all of the equipment was quite big and not terribly practical. You could learn Braille, which I did but I’ve never really had to use it.
“Now, with devices like Kindles and iPads, they have so many functions and apps, the difference they can make is incredible.”
This is the 11th year for the awards, celebrating inspirational work to provide services and care for people with macular disease all over the UK.
Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, said: “All of our volunteers do a tremendous job in helping people all over the UK with macular disease, and our annual awards give us an opportunity to say thank you to them for all that they do.
“Pat is no exception and thoroughly deserves this nomination.
“She has worked tirelessly to help so many people with macular disease and it’s only right that her efforts should be recognised in this way.”