Cycling from London to Cambridge

While lying in my hospital bed in July 2016, I told my friends that I was going to take part in the London to Cambridge bike ride during the following summer. This was an important goal for me to work towards after several years of poor health and the feeling that I wanted to put something back into my community after receiving an organ donation from a stranger.

On the day of the bike ride the weather was perfect – warm with a slight breeze. Standing by Midsummer Common in Cambridge at 6:45 in the morning on 2 July, I realise this was the start of an extraordinary day.

By 8.15am I was in North London at the start line, wearing my purple Cam Sight bike ride T-shirt, and accompanied by my pilot Sean Rock, a dedicated trustee of the charity.

The first couple of miles were a bit scary with London traffic around us, but we soon cycled up the first of many hills, taking us out into the Essex countryside. There are five official stops on the way where you could get food water and any mechanical assistance required. Our first stop was at Roydon. We had a quick break for water and a snack and then we were off again. I was feeling full of energy and optimism as we headed off for the next stretch.

As well as relaying instructions to me, my pilot Sean also had so much knowledge about crops, trees and types of birds we encountered on our route. Skylarks high above us reminded us that this was a good British summer!

One of the things that kept me going during this challenging event was the promise that there was a place somewhere near Saffron Walden where there were going to be many cakes. Happily we reached Arkston and indeed there were still many cakes to choose from, as well as burgers and hot dogs. Time for a serious refuelling lunch I felt! We were now well over half way home.

Whittlesford was the last official stop and then came the hard part. My head knew that I was close to home but the miles dragged more than on any other stretch. Approaching Cambridge, the speed of the traffic is so much faster and it was all rather stressful. However entering the city boundary reassured me that I was going to make it to the finish line. Applause greeted us as we entered Midsummer Common and hit the finish line and I was proud to receive my certificate for completing the 60 mile bike ride.

Think about doing it yourself next year; you will get great sense achievement and raise some money for a great cause!

by Lynne Hester

Enhancing Audio Description

A research group from the University of York are working on a project called ‘Enhancing Audio Description’. In order to provide a more immersive experience for visually impaired people, they are looking into new ways to enhance Audio Description for film and television. By using advanced spatial audio techniques, they redefine the way in which audio is produced and used in films and television shows as well as how this audio is played back when listening over headphones. To further their studies, they require visually impaired volunteers to visit the University of York and take part in their second listening test. If there is a group of volunteers in other geographical areas that are unable to travel and can suggest a suitable venue they would be happy to organise listening tests in other cities to allow as many people as possible to participate.

The research process includes 3 main parts:

1) Completing a questionnaire about yourself
2) Watching a short film
3) Completing a questionnaire on your experience

The whole process will last about 90 minutes.

Participants will receive a £50 gift voucher and travel expenses within the UK will be covered.

The dates available for participants to take part in this study are 14th August to 28th August starting at any time between 9am and 4pm. If these dates are not convenient, please get in touch to find out whether they could organise another time.

Please email mariana.lopez@york.ac.uk or call on 01904 32 5248 with a preferred date and time.

For more information about the project please visit http://enhancingaudiodescription.com/

Dr Mariana Lopez
Lecturer in Sound Production and Post Production
Department of Theatre, Film and Television, University of York
Web: http://www.york.ac.uk/tftv/; http://www.marianajlopez.wordpress.com

Sicily Trip By Emma Meade

On Monday, 15 May 2017 – after months of emails, telephone calls and preparations – we were speeding in a taxi from various parts of Cambridge heading to Gatwick Airport and final holiday destination Sicily.

There were five excited passengers: Yijing Zhang, Brian Wagg, Khalid and Juveria Momen and Emma Meade.

This holiday was one of several run by Seable Holidays, a company whose aim is to give visually impaired customers a holiday which is accessible for them.

The special assistance which we had booked was excellent; and when we were on the Norwegian Air flight, we were given a Braille leaflet which not only contained the safety instructions, but also had diagrams of the aircraft showing the emergency exits.

We were met at Catania Airport by Francesco who was to be our tour guide and driver for the whole week.

We were staying in two private apartments outside the city centre and the daily breakfasts on the patio prepared by the owners of the apartments were memorable, always in the sunshine with the accompaniment of collared doves and wood pigeons.

Our first full day was spent on the beach with the opportunities of experiencing wind surfing or paddle boarding. Titziana and Marco, who ran a wind surfing school, communicated the instructions clearly and helped us all to feel safe.

Wednesday included a visit to a tactile museum in Catania. When you entered the building there was a raised path to follow and if you went onto the smooth flooring, this meant that you were off course and needed to get back onto the raised path to find your way round. A head and shoulders statue of Louis Braille was there to welcome us inside the door. There were also models of The Dome of the Rock, The Wailing Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There was also an elephant which is the animal associated with Catania and the model of a castle at Acicastello which we would be visiting later in the week.

We then experienced the smells of a fish market and Francesco treated us to two of the cold drinks which are associated with Sicily – mandarino e limona and a similar one which had salt in it.

After lunch and a shopping opportunity we went on the first of the food tastings which were to become a regular feature of our holiday. Duci are a company who make desserts for restaurants and we went into the laboratory to taste some of the products. We each had an individual cup with each dessert in them – mousses, cheesecakes, Keyline pie and granita which is a typical dessert of Sicily. Delicious!

Thursday saw us travelling a little way up Mount Etna to an organic farm. After smelling some of the herbs and looking at the chestnuts and hazelnuts, we were introduced to some of the farm animals, a goat with a wonderful beard and a donkey. Apparently, if you touch a goat’s horns, it brings you good luck.

We then went into the farmhouse to experience the typical Italian lunch cooked by the farmer’s wife. We learned that lunch is the most important family meal and is taken very slowly. I think there were about five courses – the most memorable being the dessert course which contained two desserts – a rum barber and cannolo, a pastry tube which contained ricotta cheese and almond. Of course there was wine with the meal; and after coffee, we were treated to Grappa, a spirit which burns the back of the throat! I got used to it after a while and decided that I enjoyed it.

Then followed a wine tasting at a vineyard which included a wine which contained apple from Mount Etna. I actually bought a bottle to take home and it is now waiting for that special occasion!

Friday was the visit to the castle at Acicastello which I mentioned earlier. A lot of climbing was involved, but we all managed it and it was lovely to be up high feeling the cool air with the sea below us.

After lunch in a fishing village, Acitrezza, which became a favourite of mine, we returned home and took advantage of the swimming pool which belonged to our apartments. As was our routine every evening, we ate out in a local restaurant.

A later start on Saturday, as this was the day to tackle Mount Etna. After a stop on the way to get our lunch which we were to take with us, we started our ascent up the mountain in a cable car. We had agreed unanimously to go right up to the main crater of the volcano, so we went up further in a bus, very bumpy like turbulence in an aeroplane.

Then followed a climb in the company of other tourists and a mountain guide. Snow and ice could still be seen on the mountain and we were given pieces of lava which were still hot after an eruption on 25 April. We were climbing on 20 May.

When we reached the top, we were 3,500 m high, which would be about 10,000 ft. Coming down was more difficult, but we all managed successfully. Nobody fell over and we were all glad that we had had the experience. We were the first visually impaired group that Seable had taken right up to the main crater.

Heaven of a different sort was experienced in a honey factory. Not only honey, but olive oils, olives, wines and liqueurs, plus products made from the honey, were there for us to sample. This was a wonderful opportunity for buying presents and at a very reasonable price.

A meal at a porcini restaurant ended a wonderful day and Brian and I could not resist drinking a red wine from Etna with our meal.

Sunday was a second day on the beach, the choice of Juveria, who celebrated her birthday the previous day. Another opportunity to brush up on our wind surfing and paddle boarding skills.

In the evening we went to the tapas bar where Francesco works. A great sharing of Sicilian food.

Monday, 22 May, was the final day. After packing, we had our final lunch together in Acitrezza and then a walk along the seafront and a final shopping opportunity for the ladies. I managed to speak to the shop assistant in Italian, which were a great success and a proud moment for me.

Then the sad part – travelling back to England, which went very well, with the Special Assistance at both Catania and Gatwick Airports doing us proud.

The final taxi journey home was a quiet one with us all being transported safely to our destinations.

Each of us will have our own stories. For me, it was achieving my first real holiday abroad. Fears of sharing a room, managing with carry-on luggage and handling foreign currency were soon swept away. Our sighted companions, plus Francesco, our guide, were very helpful and we all got on well. We did not feel like tourists, but were shown the real Sicily – rather like a friend showing us where he lived. Speaking for myself, I would go on another holiday.

Special thanks should go to Yijing for organising the holiday as well as to Francesco of Seable Holidays.

To find out about Seable Holidays, go to their website www.seable.co.uk or 0207 749 4866

Cam Sight 100+ Club

We are delighted to announce the launch of Cam Sight’s 100+ Club. This is a scheme to raise funds for the Society and give our supporters the chance to win cash prizes every month. For the annual subscription of £24 per share you will be entered in twelve monthly draws.

If you would like to join Cam Sight’s 100+ Club please contact info@camsight.org.uk or phone 01223 420033 and we will forward an entry form and standing order form to you.

Cam Sight 100+ Club Rules

1. The club will be known as Cam Sight 100+ Club and registered at 167 Green End Road Cambridge CB4 1RW.
2. Participation in the Cam Sight 100+ Club is open to all supporters over the age of 16.
3. The Cam Sight 100+ Club is formed for fundraising purposes and all proceeds raised, after provision of prizes and expenses, will be deposited in the funds of Cam Sight.
4. Application for participation in the Cam Sight 100+ Club must be made to the promoter at the office. The subscription shall be £2 per month, per share payable as annual instalments in advance.
5. The shares can be held singly or in multiples. Every share must be registered in a single name.
6. Approximately half the annual income will be given away as cash prizes. The prize values to be arranged at the discretion of the promoter.
7. All members must be paid up for the full month prior to the draw taking place, usually the last day of the month, in the presence of at least 2 people.
8. All prize winners will be notified and a list of prize winners kept at the office. Winners will also be in the quarterly newsletter.
9. Each participant will receive a copy of these rules and a registered number for each share held.
10. New members can join at any time during the year on payment of a subscription and will be included in the following months draw.

Tunnelling Under Cities – Advances in Research and Practice

The Friends of Cam Sight present Tunnelling Under Cities – Research and Practice, a lecture in aid of Cam Sight by Professor Lord Robert Mair CBE FREng FICE FRS, University of Cambridge.

The evening talk will be held on Thursday 13 July at 7.30pm at the Department of Engineering, Lensfield Road. Ticket price at a suggestion donation of £15 per head to include wine and canapes are available from Sally Nott on 01223 420033 Ext 25 sally.n@camsight.org.uk.

Something a bit different for you all…certainly an interesting, thought-provoking topic which we hope you will enjoy…

Urban congestion is a serious problem in many cities, so the creation of underground space and in particular the development of underground transport is environmentally essential for our future megacities. How can tunnels be built in ground sometimes as soft as toothpaste? What can go wrong? Will buildings above be affected by subsidence? What else is underground already that might get in the way or be adversely affected? Geotechnical engineering – the application of the science of soil mechanics and engineering geology – plays a key role in answering these questions.

The talk will highlight the critical importance of geology and the development and application of the latest underground construction techniques. Examples of projects from around the world will demonstrate the size, technical challenges and complexity of modern underground construction. Some research advances and innovations at Cambridge will be described. Protection from subsidence is critical and new ways to evaluate how buildings may be affected by tunnelling and deep excavations will be explained; innovative protective techniques will also be described. Novel techniques for monitoring construction using fibre optic technology and wireless sensor networks will be presented, illustrated by some recent case histories.

Robert Mair is the Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering at Cambridge University. He was Master of Jesus College 2001-2011. Before he was appointed to a Professorship at Cambridge in 1998 he worked in industry for 27 years, founding the Geotechnical Consulting Group, an international consulting company, in 1983. His research group specialises in the geotechnics of tunnelling and underground construction. He leads the Cambridge Centre on Smart Infrastructure and Construction, involving the innovative use of the latest sensor technologies to monitor the behaviour of buildings, bridges and tunnels. He has advised on many infrastructure projects worldwide. He is a member of the Expert Panel on Crossrail, Europe’s largest civil engineering project, and was Chairman of the Singapore Government’s International Board of Advisors on underground transport construction. He chaired the Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering Report on Shale Gas Extraction for the UK Government, published in 2012. He is Chairman of the Science Advisory Council of the Department for Transport and is President-elect of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He was recently appointed a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords and is a member of its Select Committee on Science and Technology.

Focus on Reading Day

Technology Exhibition. Thursday 22 June, 10am – 2pm.

Optelec and Calibre Audio invite you to a Focus Day – an event for anyone experiencing sight loss.

Demonstrations will be available of the Traveller HD and Ruby 7HD compact handheld video magnifiers that make reading easier when you’re out and about. Do you find it difficult reading your favourite magazine or newspaper at home? Demonstrations will be available of the ClearReader+. Once switched-on, it scans and reads the article out in an instant using a choice of natural sounding voices.

Calibre Audio Library will also be on hand offering access to 6,700 audio books. If you find reading difficult, please come along and try out the equipment on display.

We look forward to welcoming you to Cam Sight, 167 Green End Road, Cambridge, CB4 1RW.

Vote for Cam Sight!

We need your vote! Please help us win up to £25,000 by voting in the MCF Community Awards at VOTE

Cam Sight has been chosen to receive a donation but it’s up to the public to decide which charities get the largest grant through an online vote. The vote is open from 12 June – 31 July 2017. Please help us make an even bigger difference to local people who are blind or have low vision.

Thank you!

Workshop: Sharing Patient Data Between Hospitals, Researchers, Government and Scientific Industries

The Centre for Cambridge Clinical Informatics is holding a public opinion workshop on how best to share patient medical records between healthcare providers, researchers, government bodies, and scientific industries. They will discuss data sharing with regards to developing new healthcare products, medications, and treatment methods. They aim to share the information they gather with policy makers and those involved in healthcare research to help support a community-formed policy on health data management.

Discussion topics:
• sharing data
• selling data; and
• the best methods of healthcare providers working with government, researchers, and scientific industries.

Everyone is welcome to attend this free event, particularly patients, and their families and carers. If you are interested in attending, please email Karen Hlaba at klh67@medschl.cam.ac.uk to confirm your place. The workshop will take place on Thursday 29 June, from 10h00 to 12h30, in Cormack Room, University Centre, Granta Place, Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RU. They will compensate reasonable travel costs and provide light refreshments. University Centre is accessible for disabled persons; for more access information, please visit: http://www.unicen.cam.ac.uk/contact-us

Coffee and Chat Group

Join a new, friendly support group and enjoy a coffee and a chat at Cam Sight. We are mostly middle-aged and provide friendship and support to one another, share experiences and information, discuss upcoming events and social activities.

The group meets on the 4th Monday of each month, 9.30am – 12.30pm (excluding Bank Holidays) at Cam Sight, 167 Green End Road, Cambridge, CB4 1RW. The Citi 2 bus stop is very close to Cam Sight on Green End Road.

Contact Ann Whitmore on 01223 232906 if you would like to find out more.

The Transport Focus Group Special on Cambridge Station

Are you concerned about how the developments at Cambridge Station impact on people with disabilities, their carers and older people? Do you want to ask questions about the new Cambridge North station?

Cambridgeshire Alliance for Independent Living have been listening to people’s concerns and have discussed this with Cambridge Station.

They have arranged a meeting with the Station Management to talk about the issues. They would really like you to come along and ask your questions.

Tuesday 16th May 2017, 2pm (for about an hour)
Meet on the station concourse

Do you want to know more about these issues?
• Passenger assistance service
• Signage around the station
• Disabled parking
• Bicycles around the station plaza

To book your place, contact Graham Lewis.

Email: Graham@cambridgeshirealliance.org.uk
Phone: 0300 111 2301

Please let him know how to make this event accessible to you.