Sight impaired gardener lets his ambition blossom with Trafford Housing Trust (From Messenger Newspapers)
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Sight impaired gardener lets his ambition blossom with Trafford Housing Trust
6:10pm Saturday 17th August 2013 in News
A 47-YEAR-old dad-of-one with a severe sight impairment has refused to let his condition slow him down, by becoming a volunteer with Trafford Housing Trust’s gardening team.
Richard Cruice, a former Grenadier Guard, is helping the social housing provider to keep tenants’ gardens looking neat and tidy, despite having a condition called macular degeneration, which causes loss of vision in the centre of his visual field.
The condition means that Richard doesn’t see anything through his central vision, although his peripheral vision remains unaffected.
The condition developed when he was in his late 30s when he began experiencing black spots in his vision, and was quickly referred to Manchester Eye Hospital by his optician.
He has since developed a range of coping strategies to live with his sight loss, by making full use of his unaffected peripheral vision.
Henshaws Society for Blind People, the charity which provides help for anyone affected by sight loss, has supported Richard throughout his journey.
The charity’s Old Trafford branch recently enrolled Richard on its Skillstep course, which combines training, career advice and work placements.
Through this course, Richard began volunteering with Trafford Housing Trust’s repairs division, on a two-week placement.
Richard’s skill at gardening was quickly identified by housing staff, and has led to him being asked back to continue working two days a week with Trafford Housing Trust on a voluntary basis – sprucing up tenants’ gardens as part of the Trust’s ‘handifix’ service, which carries out odd jobs for tenants for a small fee.
Richard, who lives in Openshaw with his 15-year-old daughter said: “It’s a great opportunity. Gardening is something I’ve always really enjoyed, and Trafford Housing Trust values what I can offer.
"At first, the guys were a little nervous about handing me the gardening shears. However, they quickly came to realise that I can do the job well as anyone, and now they treat me as another member of the team.
“It’s been a learning process for the housing trust, as well as for me. It just goes to show that once employers take the time to understand what people with disabilities can offer, it can lead to a great result all round.
“I’ve worked all my life, and as a former soldier, I’m not one for backing down from a challenge. I just want the chance to keep working and making a contribution.”
Elaine Johnson, managing director of localities for Trafford Housing Trust said: “Richard has been a real inspiration since he began volunteering with us. Far from letting his sight impairment hold him back, he’s proven himself to be extremely adept, delivering a great service to our customers.
"His colleagues have nothing but good things to say about what a hard worker he is.
“We’re keen to maintain our relationship with Richard, and are actively looking for further opportunities for him.”
Richard spent six years with the Grenadier Guards earlier in his career, during which time he was posted to army bases in Germany, performed active service in Ireland and public duties at famous public landmarks including the Tower of London and St James’s Palace.
Henshaws is Trafford Housing Trust’s designated charity for 2013.
Staff at the housing provider have been taking part in a wide range of fundraising events to support the charity.
Louisa Walmsley, corporate relationships officer, said: “Trafford Housing Trust has been getting involved in Henshaws on every level – from organising a fundraising car wash and taking part in our birthday quiz, to running the Manchester 10k and promoting our newest appeal Bright for Sight brightforsight.org.uk through their mailings to all their residents.
“By supporting Richard in a voluntary capacity, Trafford Housing Trust is helping him to gain not only valuable skills but self-confidence as well. Their support is very much appreciated and we are hugely grateful for their commitment to Henshaws.”
Henshaws will have a stall at the next two family fun days run by Trafford Housing Trust.
The first is on August 22 from noon to 4pm at Old Trafford (the field behind Old Trafford Community Centre on Shrewsbury Street) and the other on the August 15, 11am to 3pm at Woodsend Park, Flixton.
Anyone who wants to get involved with the fundraising efforts, or would like some more information on the services they provide can go and have a chat with them.
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