A Bideford man has been recognised for his dedication to helping people with central vision loss.

A BIDEFORD man is in the running for a national award after setting up a local sight loss support group.

Alan Strawson, 62, had been nominated for the Chairman’s Award for Volunteering as part of the Macular Disease Society’s 25th anniversary awards for excellence.

Mr Strawson helped set up the Bideford and Torridge group in 2007 which offers advice, information and friendship to those suffering from central vision loss.

He said: “My mother-in-law wanted to set up a local support group and asked if I would be able to give a couple of hours a month to help.

“Back then I knew nothing about macular disease.

“I think the group is a lifeline to people in many ways; some are quite elderly and often coming along to the group is their only contact with the outside world.

“The social side is so important; some of the members feel quite isolated, so this gives them an opportunity to regularly meet with other people affected by sight loss.

“People can feel like they are the only person in the world with macular disease, it can be so beneficial to meet up with people in a similar position.

“We have a lovely group of people who deserve the help; I would really miss the contact with them if I wasn’t involved.”

Mr Strawson was nominated by Peter Ellis, the local support group’s leader.

Mr Ellis said: “Alan has been such a tower of strength to me as group leader and a great encourager.

“He is so generous with his time and efforts; he is extremely hospitable and works tirelessly for the Macular Disease Society.”

The judges will decide on the overall winners, who will be presented with awards at the society’s annual London conference on September 22.

The Macular Disease Society’s Bideford and Torridge support group meets on the second Tuesday of every month from 10.30am – 12.30pm at Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Bideford.