Introducing Our Patrons…
Useful Vision are incredibly proud to announce our new patron Paralympian, double European Gold medallist, and DJ, Zak Skinner! Zak joins BBC Countryfile presenter, Adam Henson, to become the second patron for Useful Vision, the North East’s leading charity for visually impaired children.
Patrons provide vital publicity and credibility to charitable organisations. Our patrons are extraordinary people with the common objective of supporting visually impaired children and their families across the North East. Zak and Adam have close personal ties with our work, and champion our aims and ethos.
Adam Henson is perhaps the UK’s most renowned farmer and has an accomplished career in television, radio, and print. Alongside presenting Countryfile to millions of viewers every week, Adam can be seen on Lambing Live with Kate Humble and can be heard on Radio 4’s On Your Farm and Farming Today. Adam is a Sunday Times best-selling author. He published his first book, ‘My Life On The Land’, in 2011 to glowing reviews, and has since authored a memoir, an interactive children’s book, a guide to the countryside titled ‘Two for Joy’, and more. Adam also runs the Cotswold Farm Park – home to over 50 breeding flocks and herds of British rare breed farm animals – which attracts over 170,000 visitors per year.
Adam has been a dedicated supporter and friend of Useful Vision since we opened over 17 years ago. His nephew, Ben Wilson, was the inspiration behind Useful Vision when he went blind at the age of five. Adam said:
“When my late nephew Ben lost his sight, it brought home to me the challenges facing families with a visually impaired child. Finding suitable leisure activities, accessing information, and learning about the latest equipment and technology aids was often an uphill struggle. Useful Vision was set up in 2005 and has since become the lead provider of events and activities designed specifically for visually impaired children and their families in the North East. I am delighted to be its Patron and support their fantastic work.”
Zak Skinner, whose dad is from Newcastle, was born with Ocular Albinism and Nystagmus. Despite his visual impairment, he was determined to take part in a wide range of activities as a keen sportsman. He discovered his talent for athletics after attending a Paralympic Development Day in 2015, beginning a journey that would take him to Double European Gold and the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021. He reached the final in both his events, the Long Jump and 100ms (both in the F/T13 classification for VI) and is now looking towards the Paris 2024 games. Zak, 24, told us:
“I am so excited to become a Patron for Useful Vision, as I fully understand and appreciate the value of an organisation offering this type of support to young people and their families dealing with the challenges of a visual impairment. I used a similar organisation myself when growing up and am so pleased to now be able to offer my support, and in an area where I still have strong family ties.”
Zak first got involved with Useful Vision in the summer as a motivational speaker at our teen event ‘AchieVIng Success: An Exclusive Q&A with visually impaired stars’ – alongside Paralympian Souleyman Bah, Useful Vision alumni Darren Tambin, and blogger & radio presenter Holly Tuke aka ‘Life of A Blind Girl’. Zak gave a fantastic speech about growing up with a visual impairment, accessing higher education, and his Paralympic journey.
“I have worked hard over the last five years in athletics and been rewarded with some success to date, but I have bigger dreams and ambitions and I am going to work even harder to achieve my goals at the Paralympics 2024. There will be plenty of highs and lows along the way I’m sure, and as there have already been in my career to date, and I hope to share some of these with you over the next two years.”
Zak began DJing as a hobby during his first year at Loughborough University. He has since created and run his own successful events business, alongside DJing at clubs in London and across the Midlands.
By lending their support, our patrons play a significant role in furthering the reach and impact of Useful Vision. We’re so grateful to have them on board and look forward to working closely together to promote Useful Vision’s vital work.