10:41AM, Friday 17 December 2021
After more than 40 years at the helm of Berkshire Vision Windsor and Maidenhead, Jo Ayre is stepping down from her role as president and handing over the reins.
Previously a driver, the 83-year-old has been helping people with visual impairment in Windsor and Maidenhead since the late 70s.
As part of her role, which she describes as a ‘bossy organiser’, Mrs Ayre arranged monthly gatherings for residents who are visually impaired.
The social occasions, where COVID precautions are taken to ensure they are safe, provide an opportunity for residents, many of whom can feel ‘quite lonely’, with an opportunity to meet and engage with others.
This year’s Christmas party, held at St Joseph’s Parish Church in Cookham Road on Tuesday, was her last in charge before she hands over to Peter and Lin Hughes.
However, although she will be stepping down, she will not be stepping away from the charity and plans to help out where she can.
Speaking to the Advertiser, Jo said: “I absolutely love it. As soon as they [a resident] are referred to us, we go and see them, tell them about the club, reassure them and they come and have a party once a month.
“Christmas time is always special; we have the Salvation Army, carols and I made mulled wine for 100 – we generally just have a good time.
“We’ve also taken on the Windsor club because they couldn’t get anyone to run it.
“All of the drivers and the volunteers here are just amazing, and they’re all personal friends.
“During lockdown, I phoned everyone once a fortnight to make sure they were alright. From December last year, we delivered a meal to them once a month as well.”
Although she will continue to work with the club, Mrs Ayre said that she is looking forward to enjoying a game of bridge, her painting classes and spending more time visiting people.
She received a lot of praise and thanks for her hard work over the past four decades, including from Laura Mitchell, CEO of Berkshire Vision, who said: “A huge thank you to Jo for her wonderful support over the years.
“We are so grateful for everything she has done to help support those living with sight loss in Maidenhead.”