Oxfordshire Association for the Blind, has just won two national awards!

Judith Wood, a visual impairment counsellor wins prestigious Radio 4 ‘All in the Mind’ mental health award and a coveted British Citizen Award

The picture above shows Judith Wood (left) being handed the BBC Radio 4 All in the Mind award by Dame Kelly Holmes (middle) accompanied by Nathan Tree (right)

Since 1877, OAB has provided free specialist support to people in the county affected by sight loss, supporting over 2,800 people every year.

Visionary are excited to announce that Judith Wood, Counsellor at Oxfordshire Association for the Blind, has just won two national awards!

Chosen from over 1,000 nominations Judith is one of three winners of the BBC Radio 4 All in the Mind Awards in the ‘professional’ category, which recognises excellence in mental health care. Judith also attended a ceremony at the Palace of Westminster where she received a British Citizen Award for Services to Healthcare.

Nathan Tree, 29, nominated Judith for the All in the Mind Awards after she helped him come to terms with his own sight loss. Judith is visually impaired herself and she lost the last of her sight in 2016. Reflecting on the ceremony, Nathan said “This was one of the proudest moments of my life. Judith – I can never thank you enough for giving me my life back!”

Hosted by Claudia Hammond on 25 June 2018 at the Welcome Collection in London. The award was Announced by Marion Janner OBE, mental health campaigner. Marion said: “The winner is somebody who exemplifies what is wonderful about the best professionals which is that, in themselves, they are inspiring role models and they are able to see what we can do – our skills, our talents, our dreams.”

Nathan also said “Thanks to Judith, I have gone through a complete transformation. I have completed two triathlons, got a new job, started my Masters degree and been to Canada to play Blind Ice Hockey, all of which would not have been possible without her help.”

In April, OAB nominated Judith for a British Citizen Award. Judith says “I am absolutely blown away by receiving this Award. As a psychologist and counsellor, I love my job and now, being totally blind, it has been my saviour to help others. I am very proud, and still I can’t believe it.”

The BCA have said: “Judith’s contribution to the care and support of local blind and partially sighted people and their families has been committed, dedicated and compassionate.”

Judith has been a counsellor and sight advisor at OAB for twenty-five years. The biggest impact of Judith’s work has been the creation of a joined-up and comprehensive mental health service for visually impaired people and their carers, and the direct impact of this on the lives of thousands of people. Judith has around 500 in-person appointments each year and provides telephone counselling. In addition, the sight advisory service that she established at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital has around 600 visitors annually.

Top tips to members

Below are tips on how to develop services while working alongside others already implemented in your region and how to stay positive and on track:

  • Keep well connected with all parties in your county; local authority, eye hospital, education team etc. so that when developing services, you are aware of what is being offered elsewhere and so that you can work together to support blind and partially sighted people
  • A lot of time, patience, perseverance and consistency; services can take a long time to develop, initially with small numbers but the more you keep at it and provide a good service the more referrals you will get


Organisation profile

The picture above shows Judith Wood being presented the BCA award on stage

Name: Oxfordshire Association for the Blind

Established: 1877

CEO: Clare Pearce

Staff: 10

Funding: Mostly trusts and grants plus individual giving

Services: Information & advice, equipment provision, technology training, counselling, volunteer visitors, children and young people’s activities, clubs and groups, sports

Reach: Oxfordshire

Number of VI in region: Over 7,000

Supporting on average: Approximately 3,000