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Patron, Trustees, Advisors

Our Patron

Our Patron Trevor Clarke Trevor Clarke MBE – We were delighted when Trevor agreed to be our patron. He was the principal of Bendrigg Trust for 33 years until his retirement in 2016. He remains active in the outdoors and shares our belief that outdoor activities should be accessible to all.

Our Trustees

Mark Colman

Mark – Current Trustee Chairman – has enjoyed all the activities from the early days of the project. He has participated in climbing, caving, canoeing, yachting and triathlon training courses with varying degrees of success. He also skis and surfs, and is in the process of learning the dark art of snowboarding. His vision loss is a result of retinitis pigmentosa diagnosed at the age of 7. When not getting cold and wet on land and sea, he works in Digital Services for local government and is studying Business Analytics in the evenings.

Mark Canoeing solo on Windermere
Paul James – Boeing 737 pilot and Training Captain of Jet2. Paul has always been very active in the outdoors and holds a MIC award (Mountain Instructor Certificate). He enjoys many different activities but his main love is skiing in the mountains. His achievements include summiting Mount Everest and representing GB in his Age-Group at long distance triathlon Paul J at the controls of a Boeing 737Paul J at the summit of Everest
Dave C sitting on the coach roof of a yacht Dave Corso – Treasurer and Co-founder of VoA and retired IT consultant. In the outdoors, Dave’s passion is for sailing and has skippered his boat across the Atlantic in both directions. Dave also maintains the fleet of tandems for VoA.
Francesca Higgins – Started out as an outdoor education instructor working in the Lakes, Australia and Salford before switching to study Human Resources Management. Spent the next 20 years working in a range of HR settings including with the BBC, NHS, Housing Association, an airport authority and the Cairngorms National Park, before going full circle and working as the Head of HR at the Outward Bound Trust.

Started to lose her sight in 2008 due to a previously un-diagnosed genetic macular dystrophy (Stargartds Disease) and volunteered for a while with Sight Advice South Lakes in Kendal.  Has also been very involved in fundraising for Henshaws (a sight-loss charity based in Manchester).

Currently working part time after stepping down from her role at Outward Bound. Took up running a few years ago and has completed the Lakes In A Day Ultra Marathon.
Fran and her lurcher campanion Willow on a Lake District ridge
Emily climbing in Spain

Emily Banks

Emily has been working in the advice and guidance sector for over 14 years and is currently working for the RNIB.

She was born with a genetic eye condition which has been slowly deteriorating over the years.

Emily has been a regular participant since the early beginnings of the project in 2013. She enjoys all the activities that are on offer –  in particular caving, climbing and cycling. She has competed in 5 triathlons with VoA’s help, something She never thought possible. Emily believes that VoA has given her life changing experiences that have helped her to grow as a person and cope with her sight loss.

Emily has been involved as an informal consultant for several years, always available for advice, testing new systems etc. She now feels honoured to take a formal role be in a position to help others access to VoA’s activities.

Steve Bateman  Retired civil servant. Past president of the Windermere and Ambleside Lions Club. Steve ignited the project 10 years ago when he came on an expedition that Jill ran for people with various disabilities. The following year he returned with 4 other visually impaired people and 5 guides for an expedition down the river Spey. Since then he has participated regularly. Steve enjoys all the activities although his main pursuit in life is long distance cycling. Recently he completed the Cycle Across America! Trustee Steve B sitting on a river bank


Other Advisors

David Newman with rucksack and hiking gear David Newman – Retired IT consultant. Was on the first trip with Steve Bateman and instrumental in spreading the word to many of the VIs and Guides we see on the courses today. David travels the world supporting his VI partner who is a professor at Leeds University and a well regarded expert in the field of disability law.
John Crosbie – Chair of the Institute for Outdoor Learning and Associate  Lecturer  at the University of Derby. Former Head of centre at both the Outward Bound Trust and the Calvert Trust. John is well placed to advise the VoA charity in its formative years. John Crosbie in sailing jacket
Triathlon coach standing in front of bikes gesticulating with hands after an event Paddy Finn – Retired Business Studies teacher and management trainer. He races for the GB Age-Group triathlon team and is a coach at the Kendal triathlon club. Paddy also coaches on our triathlon training events.