Blind veterans charity to benefit from Plymouth’s research expertise

Ian Sherriff (left) with HRH the Countess of Wessex and Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB, Chief Executive of Blind Veterans UK

A former Fleet Air Arm engineer for 25 years turned social research champion has been named Chair of the research group in national charity Blind Veterans UK.

Ian Sherriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at the University of Plymouth, has been selected as Chair of the charity’s Research & Ethics Expert Group, which supports the organisation to put world-leading laboratory research into practice for those who need it most.

As his first duty, in the lead up to Remembrance Day Ian was invited to a ceremony unveiling six statues of blind soldiers at Manchester Piccadilly Station, which were revealed by charity’s patron HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO.

Ian is also Chair of the Prime Minister’s Rural Dementia Group, which has had three papers recently accepted by the House of Lords Rural Economy Select Committee focusing on the importance of helping people with dementia in rural communities. 

His role at the University has focused on improving policy for people with dementia and their carers, and he was selected to lead the Blind Veterans UK group as ‘a leading figure within social research and partnerships’.

The charity was set up in 1915 to support anyone who has served in the armed forces or done National Service and lives with significant sight loss, and its research has become a major priority.

Ian, who is also Chair of the Prime Minister’s Dementia-Friendly Air Transport Group, said: 

“When research takes place, it’s important that its ultimate aim is to make a positive difference – whether that be identifying a problem to solve, or offering a solution to problems that exist.

“Following an earlier career in the Fleet Air Arm, social research is one of my passions, and I’ve been keen to influence policy for people in need on a national scale.

“In the most recent Research Excellence Framework, the University of Plymouth had the best clinical research output of any organisation in the country – in short, that means it made the most impactful difference. That’s what research should do, and that’s what I want to carry forward for Blind Veterans UK.”

Renata Gomes, Head of Research and Innovation at Blind Veterans UK, said: 

“As we enter the charity’s second century of service, we consider research and innovation to be a major priority for Blind Veterans UK. The charity has always been the forefront of research and adaptive technologies and we have always endeavoured to invent and adapt anything that would make our veterans’ lives better, from ophthalmic provisions to ensuring beneficiaries could have fun and play games.

“I am confident that under Mr Sherriff’s leadership our research and innovation guidance and ethics will continue to go from strength to strength, and we are delighted to welcome him on board.” 

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