LOSING your sight can have a devastating impact on your life.
So having support from others going through the same problem can be a great comfort.
But a group is threatened with closure after the man leading it has decided to stand down – and there’s no-one able to take over.
Clive Gatfield has been running the Havant branch of the Macular Disease Society (MDS) for the past three years.
There, people with visual impairment can find encouragement and advice and meet others with the condition in a friendly environment.
But the group, based in the Havant United Reformed Church, Elm Lane, will close unless a volunteer can be found to lead the group.
Mr Gatfield, 72, who was diagnosed with macular disease 17 years ago, said: ‘We are moving away from the area, so unfortunately I have got to retire from leading the group.
‘I have thoroughly enjoyed my time volunteering, it has been great to spend time with other people affected by macular disease and organise the meetings. Being registered blind, the paperwork is the bit that is difficult for me.
‘The group is tremendous. I get a lot out of it and I’m sure everyone else does.
‘The social side of things is a great benefit to people as well as the support and information.
‘It would be a tragedy if the group were to close. People look forward to their monthly meeting on a Thursday and it would be sorely missed.’
Age-related macular degeneration affects the central vision and is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK.
Those affected by it can find everyday tasks such as shopping, reading, watching television and even recognising people’s faces difficult.
The busy monthly meetings are an opportunity for members to swap hints and tips and get advice from guest speakers.
The volunteer who takes over will need to provide secretarial support, book guest speakers and contribute to the planning of future gatherings.
Tom McInulty, group support and development manager for MDS, said: ‘There is a wonderful group of people in Havant who all benefit enormously from the chance to meet with others affected by the condition.
‘This, coupled with the group activities, help people to regain control, build their confidence and get on with living life.
‘It would be such a shame if the group could not continue to operate. The volunteer would only be the main point of contact; they don’t need to be an expert on macular disease.
‘The group gives people a great opportunity to meet others with the condition and get some valuable help. It’s good to be able to learn from each others’ experiences.’
The group meets on the fourth Thursday of the month from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the position, or who would like advice or support concerning macular disease, can call the society’s helpline on 0845 241 2041.