Four years at the helm
Scotland’s biggest third sector sight loss organisation has announced that their chief executive is leaving to take up a new role in October after four years at the helm.
Mark O’Donnell will leave Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans, after re-launching the charities with new names and brands, having previously been called Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded.
With the number of blind and partially sighted people set to increase to over 200,000 by the end of this decade, O’Donnell and his executive team have overseen the establishment of new community support services and specialist education outreach in mainstream schools to expand Sight Scotland’s reach significantly.
Sight Scotland Veterans is also about to launch a new strategy to expand its remit and reach. Mark has also led the charity’s campaigning work for better support for blind and partially sighted people across Scotland, including for the mental health impacts of sight loss, and for increased medical research into sight loss conditions.
O’Donnell said: “I am extremely proud of what we have achieved in my time here at Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans. Our historic charities have launched a new ambition to reach many more people with sight loss across the whole of Scotland, and our new names and brands will help achieve this.
“Our existing services have been reformed to ensure they can continue and extend their vital support for blind and partially sighted people. We have developed new services, with a new focus on community support, so we can meet the needs of an increasing number of people who will be affected by sight loss in Scotland in the future.
"The pandemic has been an extremely difficult time for all charities and the people who rely on our services, but our staff have risen to this challenge to ensure we can continue our vital support even while restrictions have been in place.
“It has been a difficult decision to move on to a new role, but I am pleased that as I do so Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans are in a stronger position to support many more people with sight loss in the future. As a country we need to ensure an increasing number of visually impaired people can live well with sight loss, and Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans are ready and able to play their part in meeting that challenge.”
Michael Craig, chairman of Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans said:
“Mark’s leadership has taken us through one of the most significant periods of change and challenge in the long history of our charities. As a result of his vision and ambition we emerge stronger, with our services and support reaching a greater number of blind and partially sighted people than ever before.
“The board is grateful to Mark for all he has done to ensure we are ready for the future, with new names, a new vision and a new strategy to ensure we can provide support for more people with sight loss in communities across Scotland.
"He has played a crucial role not only in raising the profile of our charities but raising awareness of visual impairment, the need for our society to be an inclusive one for blind and partially sighted people, and the importance of supporting research into eye health.
“We wish Mark well when he begins his exciting new role. We thank him for his excellent work during his time as Chief Executive, and look forward to appointing a successor who can build on the strong foundations which Mark and the executive team have put in place.”