Cliff Jackson celebrates 20 years volunteering at Vision Australia

Volunteer: Cliff Jackson has been volunteering at Vision Australia for 20 years. Picture: John Veage
Volunteer: Cliff Jackson has been volunteering at Vision Australia for 20 years. Picture: John Veage

For the past 20 years, Cliff Jackson has caught the 478 bus from Ramsgate to Rockdale followed by the 400 bus from Rockdale to Enfield.

He started this routine when he lost his sight in 1996.

Mr Jackson, 91, from Monterey, volunteers at Vision Australia in Enfield four days a week.

This year marked 20 years since he started volunteering at Vision Australia, formerly known as the Royal Blind Society. Mr Jackson explained he joined the organisation as a client but soon began to help out as a volunteer.

He said one of the first things he had to learn, after he lost his vision, was how to use public transport to get around Sydney and to get himself to the Royal Blind Society.

“[After I lost my sight] I sold my car and I had to get used to public transport. I had never used it before then,” he said.

“But it is a great system when you get to know it. It’s a wonderful service – I have never had any problems with it.”

Vision Australia recognised Mr Jackson’s work over the past 20 years during their AGM recently giving him an award for his long service.

“I came here as a client and I heard about the volunteering side of things and I think the next day I started. I was here at 7 o’clock the next morning working in the library,” Mr Jackson said.

Since then Mr Jackson has donated three to four days of his time each week at Vision Australia, taking the three-hour round trip each day on public transport from his home.

His volunteering followed his retirement as an engineer in the aviation industry, a career which among other things saw him serve in the Royal Australian Air Force, establish an airline in Papua New Guinea and hold senior executive positions at Ansett.

Despite those achievements, Mr Jackson said the last 20 years had been extremely special to him. 

“I know that the last 20 years have been the most enjoyable of my life.”

Mr Jackson’s time at Vision Australia has seen him take on numerous roles, but his work in establishing vision impairment support groups that have supported more than 500 people across NSW is his proudest achievement.

“My aim was to get people out and about, but without pampering them too much. Letting people keep their independence was the aim of the groups and it’s worked very well. It’s given me great pleasure to see people be independent and be out and about doing things.” 

Vision Australian co-ordinator of volunteers Rolf Geerlings said Mr Jackson’s volunteering had been a significant benefit to the blind and low vision community.

“Cliff is a remarkable man and has achieved so much. He makes a genuine and significant contribution to the lives of so many people who are blind or have low vision.

“We are incredibly proud of his long standing association with Vision Australia and thank him whole heartedly for his service.”

Mr Jackson lost vision in his left eye in 1967 followed by vision in his right eye which started to fade in the 1990s, due to a retinal vein occlusion.


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