Joan Barnett, from Merrow, has been awarded one of the Mayor of Guildford’s prestigious Community Hero Award for the outstanding volunteer work she has provided to Sight for Surrey during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Joan has been a volunteer for Sight for Surrey since 2005 when she dramatically lost her sight in one eye over night and was subsequently registered as severely vision impaired. Joan received rehabilitation training from Sight for Surrey and it was during this time that a staff member thought Joan would make an amazing telephone befriender. 16 years later and Joan is still phoning and chatting to her ‘phone friends’ every week.

During the pandemic Joan took on several new phone befriending clients that were forced to isolate at home. She religiously calls her ‘phone friends’ every week, chatting about everything and anything from home, the garden, family to the latest news, providing a much needed lifeline to the outside world as well as companionship and good cheer!

Requests for our phone befriending service have soared during COVID-19 and feedback received from some of the happy clients include;

“My mother loves getting the call once a week and has built up a good relationship with the lady who rings her, it makes a big difference”.

Bob Hughes, Chief Executive at Sight for Surrey said “we are very proud that Joan has been awarded one of the Mayor of Guildford’s Community Hero Awards. Joan has shown dedication to our charity for many years and we are delighted her commitment has been recognised.”

Joan has also been a fundraiser for Sight for Surrey, organising several very successful Garden Open days to raise funds to support the charity.

Cllr Richard Billington, Mayor of Guildford 2019-2021, said:

“Everyone receiving an award has been nominated by residents whose lives have been touched by their kindness, generosity of spirit and endless enthusiasm, in some cases over many years but particularly during one of the toughest years in all of our lives. Supporting health in our community has been the theme for my mayoral year and every one of the award recipients have made significant contributions to both the physical and mental health of the borough.