19 October 2017
HRH THE PRINCESS ROYAL OPENS ‘FIELD OF DREAMS’ CENTRE FOR SCOTLAND’S DEAFBLIND COMMUNITY
HRH The Princess Royal visited Lenzie in East Dunbartonshire today (19 October 2017) to open a new centre designed to improve the lives of Scottish adults living with deafblindness
Deafblind Scotland’s Learning and Development Centre ‘Field of Dreams’ – a first of its kind in Scotland – has opened its doors after a decade of planning, campaigning and fundraising.
Her Royal Highness enjoyed a tour of the £2million state-of-the-art facility which will become a place where the charity’s 800 plus members can socialise and find support.
With advanced technology designed to help people who have lost both sight and hearing, the centre is acoustically neutral with sound and light absorbing surfaces. The space includes an arts facility, IT high-tech room and a recording studio which allows Deafblind Scotland members to keep in touch with the rest of the world.
Bob Nolan, Chair of Deafblind Scotland, said: “After 10 years of hard work, fundraising and public support, we were so proud to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal and our members here today to mark this special occasion.
“As the only charity in Scotland to support adults who acquire deafblindness at some stage in their life, we wanted to create a centre where members could meet and interact. In 2007, we identified the perfect location in Lenzie which became our ‘Field of Dreams’ – a vacant space where we could turn our idea into a reality.”
Ruth Dorman, CEO at Deafblind Scotland, added: “Having supported Deafblind adults in Scotland for over 25 years, we aim to have a society in which deafblind people have the permanent support and recognition necessary to be equal citizens.
“With an increasing prevalence of deafblindness being identified in Scotland, accessibility features and assistance for someone with a single sensory impairment are often not suitable for those with severe dual sensory loss. This can mean that deafblind people can become isolated from the community in which they live. We hope our centre will provide everything our members could need to make them feel at home in the community.”
Deafblind Scotland is keen for its ‘Field of Dreams’ to lead by example, demonstrating the necessary adaptions that builders, architects and local authorities should take into consideration to support the lives of those who are severely dual sensory impaired.
The charity’s funding for the centre was significantly boosted by a generous £600,000 donation from Glaswegian philanthropist Gordon Neasham, who made Deafblind Scotland a major beneficiary of his estate in his will. Finding out about the donation months after his passing, it’s the largest donation the charity has received to date. In memory of Mr Neasham’s kindness, Deafblind Scotland approached East Dunbartonshire Council to have the road leading into the centre named as ‘Neasham Drive’.
Mrs Dorman continued: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity shown from organisations and been encouraged by creative efforts from many individuals on how they’ve managed to raise funds, the ideas have been plentiful and they have all worked terrifically well.
“We would like to extend a huge thanks to everyone involved in this project that have helped make our dreams come true. We hope our Learning and Development Centre ‘Field of Dreams’ will encourage communication between deafblind people and sighted hearing people, helping them to live as rightful members of their local communities.”
Mrs Drena O’Malley MBE, former CEO of Deafblind Scotland, said: “It gives me great pleasure to see our hopes and wishes turned into a reality 10 years after we first discussed it. Having HRH open the centre is just the biggest thrill for all of us.”
Deafblind Scotland offers a variety of services such as communication and linguistic access advice, navigating self-directed support, information and formatting services, welfare rights support, accredited training and a specialist guide/communicator service.