Joy’s five decades of talking news...

Joy Killip, 91, of South Shore who volunteers for the blind society
Joy Killip, 91, of South Shore who volunteers for the blind society
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Fifty years is a long time to 
devote to one thing.

But retired hotelier Joy Killip has given more than half a century to the Fylde coast’s blind society – now called N Vision – and is determined to keep volunteering.

Joy, of South Shore, is chairman of the Talking Newspaper and reads – plus carries out research and puts together content for – its weekly magazine programme, Searchlight. She is one of the founders of the popular publication, which brings news and information to visually-impaired people across the Fylde coast.

She devotes many hours each week, at home and at the studio, to searching for articles and features of interest.

She was in the entertainment section of the Royal Air Force for eight years and spent 10 years in repertory theatre, before running a hotel on the Promenade for 35 years, with her husband Don.

Don, who died 12 years ago, was also a keen volunteer with the Talking Newspaper.

Joy said: “When I ran the hotel, I was quite good at fund-raising, we used to hold Champagne breakfasts.

“I was a member of Blackpool Operatic Society and the musical director at the time asked me to do some fund-raising for the blind society.

“I started off on the appeals committee – the fund-raising arm. Then, almost 40 years ago, the Talking Newspaper was set up.

“And when Keith Gledhill, chairman for 13 years, stepped down, I became chairman and have been ever since.

“When I started doing the Talking Newspaper, I knew that was the role for me. Of course, it’s changed a lot since the beginning – we used to use casette tapes, now it’s on MP3 and memory sticks.

“I wouldn’t dream of finishing with my volunteer work at the blind society.

“I’m not the only long-serving volunteer there and we have lots of fabulous volunteers.

“I think it pulls you in – once you’ve started, you can’t stop – and it’s such a vital service. It really does make a difference to the lives of local people who are visually-impaired. And I know how much it is appreciated.

“I think it’s important, almost a duty, when you have worked and retired, to do some volunteering.

“I feel I have lived my life and can now be of service.

“When I first joined, I didn’t know anything about being visually impaired and this really made me think about it.

“You can’t comprehend what it must be like to live your life in darkness, or to know you are losing your sight and one day you might not be able to see your loved ones, or know how it feels to sit on a sunny day in the garden reading a newspaper.

“I think being able to see is something we perhaps take for granted.

“I find it rewarding to know I am helping others and making a difference.”

Joy also gives regular talks to social and church groups to raise awareness of N Vision’s work and to help boost its funds – as with most charities, increasing costs and the recession have meant more funding is always needed.

“I take along some of the special gadgets we have at the Low Vision Centre, everything from devices which beep to alert the user to fluid level in a mug, to a device which you put against objects and it will tell you what colour they are. It’s incredible what technology can do.

“The talks help to let more people know about the society, and its work.

“And often people donate, which is very generous.”

The grandmother-of-two and great-grandmother, whose son David lives in Lytham, is also a trustee of the society.

When not busy with the society, Joy gives talks on her collection of Victoria hatpins – she has around 250.

And she directs productions for the Centenary Players.

She was recently presented with an award by NODA 
(National Operatic and Dramatic Association) for services to theatre and last year she won an award for best director.

And she is as passionate as ever about volunteering.

“It’s so important we can provide that support and help when people need it. And I have found it a privilege.”