Group for blind hopes for jubilee help

Oxford Mail: Venice Barry potting with her husband Christopher Venice Barry potting with her husband Christopher

OXPOTS has been helping blind and visually impaired people enjoy pottery classes for 30 years.

But with just enough cash in its coffers to keep going until the autumn, the Oxford group is hoping the Jubilee Fund for Oxfordshire could help protect its future.

Oxpots – the Oxford Pottery Workshop for the Blind or Visually Impaired – meets at St Edward’s School in Woodstock Road once a week and is a lifeline to people such as Venice Barry, who has lost her sight due to macular degeneration.

Mrs Barry, from Hook Norton, said: “Before I went blind I loved painting and drawing, but of course that is not really possible for me any more, or for most of the other people who come to Oxpots.

“But being taught to create using clay, to feel it between your fingers and work with it, is fabulous for us all. We like to think we produce some pretty good things – so much so that we will be holding an exhibition of our work at Exeter Hall in Kidlington for the next two weeks.”

Mrs Barry’s husband Christopher took over the chairmanship of Oxpots after his wife joined the group and said it has tremendous value to all the people who use it.

He said: “We have a professional potter, Dylan Bowen, who is a very good instructor, and our motto is ‘Our Hands are our Eyes’ – and they are.

“The group doesn’t cost a lot to run – only about £1,000 a year – and in 2008 I managed to get funding, which has tided us over right up until now. We only have enough money left to keep going until the autumn and I am working to apply for more grants so we can continue.

“To receive a grant from the Jubilee Fund for Oxfordshire would be a tremendous boost for us. It would be nice to know it came straight from the people of Oxfordshire, and it would enable a lot of blind and visually impaired people to continue something that really enriches and improves their lives.”

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The Jubilee Fund for Oxfordshire, launched in January, is marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year and aims to raise millions of pounds to support struggling community groups throughout Oxfordshire.

Businesses, groups and individuals throughout the county are being encouraged to get involved and donate or raise cash in any way they can.

At the end of this year the money raised will then be used to create cash grants for groups such as Oxpots.

Jayne Woodley from Oxfordshire Community Foundation, which is steering the fund, said: “Oxpots group does more than simply nurture talent. It provides a social environment for some exceptional people to enjoy an activity, and helps build confidence when and where it is needed.

“The Jubilee Fund for Oxfordshire will enable us to encourage groups such as this, which provide support to local people on many levels.”

To get involved with the Jubilee Fund email jubilee@oxfordshire.org, call 01865 798666, or drop into OCF’s offices at 3 Woodins Way, Oxford. Alternatively, donate by phone by texting JBLE 12 to 70070 with a donation. To apply for Jubilee Fund cash, visit oxfordshire.org

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