Rodney Powell Awards: 2022 winners!

Date posted: 20th October 2022

The 2022 Rodney Powell Awards were presented at the annual Sight Loss Council (SLC) volunteer conference on 8 October 2022.

The awards recognise and celebrate the huge contribution volunteers make to both the lives of blind and partially sighted people and the work of Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT).


Award categories

Volunteer of the year

This award celebrates an exceptional volunteer, who has made an impact in their local or wider community to improve the lives of blind and partially sighted people.


Volunteering team of the year

This category award celebrates the exceptional teamwork by a volunteering team, that demonstrates the benefits of working as a team to achieve goals.


Campaign of the year

This award category was new for 2022. It marks the achievements of volunteers and/or teams who have pursued a local, regional or national campaign, which has benefited blind and partially sighted people.


Outstanding contribution to volunteering

An individual whose contribution to volunteering has had a positive impact on the work of Thomas Pocklington Trust.


And the winner is…


Volunteer of the year: Julie Lee

Julie was nominated for her continuous contribution and support to Merseyside SLC. She has been heavily involved in an ongoing NHS / Health project, working on a document to present to CEO’s of local hospital trusts.

Julie Lee receiving her award by SLC member, both looking at the camera and smiling

On winning the award, Julie said:

“I am thrilled to have won this year’s award for Volunteer of the year.  It gives me an added sense of purpose to make positive change for people living with sight loss.

I will use this award as a means to persuade and influence decision makers on the NHS and culture projects that my SLC are committed to.”


Team of the year: Merseyside Sight Loss Council

Merseyside SLC was nominated for always pulling together as a team, and for supporting each other and new members. They actively engage with projects, ensuring everyone has a role to play. Recent projects have included a VI Forum with the Metro Mayor, a ‘Meet the e-scooter’ event and VI awareness training with several local organisations including Walker Art Gallery and Shakespeare Theatre.

Kelly Barton, Engagement Manager, said:

“It means a great deal to the team to win this award. We are proud to be advocates for positive change.  Winning has given us all the drive to succeed in making further positive change for blind and partially sighted people.”

Merseyside SLC volunteers group picture

Campaign of the year: ‘Making Retail Accessible’, Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council

The team at Greater Manchester SLC were nominated for their work on ‘Making retail accessible’. Following the success of their Purple Tuesday event in 2021, their work in this area continues to flourish.  They are actively working with Manchester’s Arndale centre, delivering VI awareness training across the centre to all employees. They have just designed a ‘Top Tips for Retailers’ resource, due to be rolled out nationally next month.

Mary Gilbertson, Greater Manchester SLC member said:

“Winning the campaign of the year award for our retail project is amazing.  The Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council has passionately engaged with the Arndale Centre, John Lewis and other retailers to promote VI Awareness.  I have personally grown and been eager to be part of this project from the beginning.”

Greater Manchester SLC volunteers group picture

Outstanding contribution – Meena Ratu

Meena was nominated for the impact of her work in motivating other people to “get out and enjoy life”. She wants to help people realise that being disabled or visually impaired shouldn’t stop them taking on a challenge. She spends a lot of time trying to improve and create opportunities for blind and partially sighted people. This ranges from educating people about everyday life with sight loss to creating social events and bringing people together.

Meena Ratu with Emma Hughes and a SLC member holding her trophy and smiling at the camera

Visibly moved, Meena said:

“I am extremely happy to have won the outstanding contribution award at the Rodney Powell ceremony.  This is a great achievement for me. One I never imagined I could do a few years ago.

“Since working with the sight loss council, it has had a huge positive impact on my growth and confidence. I’ve learnt new skills and understand different people that I work with on my SLC and others across the country.

“I have enjoyed every moment and will continue to work hard with my team. I look forward to working on more projects in the future, continuing to raise awareness and improve access to services in my area.”



Emma Cruickshank Head of Volunteering for Thomas Pocklington Trust said:

“It is so great to see interest in the Rodney Powell Awards growing each year. We received a record number of nominations – both for Sight Loss Council members and Student Voices volunteers.  This growth really demonstrates the impact volunteering is having on the lives of blind and partially sighted people.”

Rachel Wilkinson, Head of Engagement for Thomas Pocklington Trust, said:

“The conference and awards ceremony was a wonderful opportunity to highlight the outstanding work of volunteers. It enabled our volunteers to come together, socialise, network and take inspiration from each other for future projects.

“It is so great to see interest in the Rodney Powell Awards growing each year. This year there were some really strong nominations from the Sight Loss Councils. It made me so proud to see so much of their hard work celebrated.

“I would encourage more volunteers get involved next year, so we can highlight even more of the amazing work they are doing, both as groups and individuals. Congratulations again; keep up the life-changing work.”

Rodney Powell was Thomas Pocklington’s great nephew. He was a trustee at TPT for 37 years from 1983 to 2020, when he sadly passed away.  You can read more about Rodney and his contribution to the charity in our article.

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