Our sustainability stories

HRH The Countess of Wessex joins Vision Foundation tandem cycling session Working in tandem to break the cycle of unemployment for people with sight loss

6 July 2021. HRH The Countess of Wessex, Royal Patron of sight loss charity the Vision Foundation, joined a group of visually impaired and sighted cyclists for a tandem cycle ride in Bushy Park, West London to highlight the importance of independent living for blind and partially sighted people and the vital part employment plays in this.

7 Jul 2021

The event coincided with the launch of the Vision Foundation’s employment report See My Skills, which sets out the sight loss charity’s plan to tackle rising unemployment among blind and partially sighted people. The report is part of its Centenary campaign to work with the public, private and charitable sectors to change the employment landscape for people living with sight loss.

The Countess, a keen cyclist, was ‘pilot’ of the lead tandem, with Monica Smith, Centenary Appeal manager at the Vision Foundation adding extra power as her ‘stoker’. “I was so excited to be putting in some of the legwork for the Royal tandem,” said Monica. “I’ve been blind all my life and both work and physical activity have been absolutely vital to my independence and wellbeing.”

“The Vision Foundation is delighted to be able to launch our See My Skills report through this event with our Royal Patron,” said chief executive Olivia Curno. “The tandem cycle ride has helped us gain traction, highlighting that sighted and visually impaired people need to work in tandem to break the cycle of sight loss unemployment. We’ve had great fun with the puns but the point is a serious one.”

The other members of the Vision Foundation tandem team were:

Tandem 2

Stoker Naqi Rizv trained as an engineer and is now a propositions manager with a large national bank. He is co-chair of the Vision Foundation Centenary Appeal Board.

Pilot Harry Harris works in real estate and is a member of the Vision Foundation’s Centenary Appeal Board.

Tandem 3

Stoker Lara Green is a soft intelligence associate for Lloyd’s Market Intelligence, a passionate advocate of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and co-chair of Lloyd’s Workability Disability Network.

Pilot Amy Eld and her husband Dan Eld support the Vision Foundation through the annual Koch Metals football tournament. Amy is running the London Marathon for the Vision Foundation in October 2021.

Tandem 4

Stoker Stacy Scott is Reader Services Project Manager at RNIB Bookshare and an enthusiastic cyclist with Merton Sports and Social Club.

Pilot Andy Scott is Stacy’s husband and her tandem pilot.

Tandem 5

Stoker Amit Patel trained as a medical doctor and is now an author, media commentator and campaigner. He is a Vision Foundation trustee.

Pilot Olivia Curno is chief executive of the Vision Foundation./p>

Tandem 6

Stoker Tom Church is a Commodities Analyst at Tesco head office. He is running the London Marathon for the Vision Foundation in October 2021.

Pilot Laura Jolly is Head of Business Performance, Retirement Solutions at Legal & General.

Tandem cyclist Naqi Rizvi, Chair of Vision Foundation’s Appeal Board, said “I was born with very little sight which gradually deteriorated and left me blind at age seven. Through determination, patience and the support of my loved ones, I graduated as an engineer and have built a full-time career in financial services.” He continues, “The See My Skills report we’re launching sheds light on the challenges blind and partially sighted people face but more importantly what we all can do about it. Today’s cycle, for me, is about having fun and raising awareness about what blind and partially sighted people can do, so please join us on this important journey to make a difference.”

For more information or to arrange an interview contact: media@visionfoundation.org.uk / 0207 7620 2066

Download “See My Skills: Breaking the cycle of unemployment for blind and partially sighted people”