Almost 80 people across Cornwall have benefitted from a fund designed to help blind and partially sighted people maintain their independence.

iSightCornwall launched the Inspiring Futures Fund to mark the charity’s 160th birthday and gave out grants of up to £1,000 for people to use in a way that would have a positive impact on their lives. Talking microwaves, accessible computers, a tandem bike and a college course were just some of the things that were awarded. In total, 78 people aged between five and 97 years old received a grant.

Hoby Allen from Penryn is a self-employed sound engineer. He is also registered as severely sight impaired. Hoby received a grant to put towards a MacBook Pro which has given him access to industry standard software and is helping him to grow his business.

He said: “The best thing about having the MacBook Pro is the independence it’s given me. It has built in magnification software which means I can now use a computer to do my accounts and reply to clients.

“As a sound engineer, one of the key pieces of equipment for my job is the mixing desk which controls the levels of different instruments through the main PA system at a show. However they nearly all have touch screens which effectively make them unusable for someone with sight loss.

“With the MacBook it’s now possible to operate them from an accessible platform. This has opened up a whole new world of possibilities within my job, as in the past I’ve literally had to turn away jobs just because I’d be unable to use the mixing desk.

“This is another step, a big step to helping the sight problem feel less like a problem. So many things are now possible. It’s already become a huge part of day to day life and is helping me to achieve independence.”

Michael Reeves, from Falmouth, has been playing the guitar for 60 years but with just four per cent vision in only one of his eyes he has great difficulty reading music. After trying out a few products at the iSightCornwall pop-up event in Falmouth, Michael chose a HD video magnifier which he received through the fund.

“I’ve been playing the guitar since I was 18 and I run a guitar club for visually impaired people so being able to read music is important to me, but I’ve been struggling with it for a while," he said. "Having the magnifier has helped me no end. The magnification is marvellous, allowing me to zoom in until I can see the notes on the screen. Now I can pick out music and run the club much more easily.

The Inspiring Futures Fund was only made possible thanks to the generosity of people remembering iSightCornwall in their wills. Terri Rosnau-Ward, chief executive of the charity said: “Over a quarter of the vital work we do is made possible thanks to legacy donations. We wanted to put these incredible gifts to the best possible use which is why we created the fund. These legacies will inspire the futures of other visually impaired people in Cornwall.”

To become a member of iSightCornwall or to find out more about the services they offer visit or call 01872 261110.