Mark smiling at the camera

Introducing our new Chief Executive – Mark Upton

Hello everyone, my name is Mark and I’m starting as OAB’s new Chief Executive at the beginning of April. I want to start by thanking Helen Roseblade who is sadly retiring because of ill health at the end of March. Helen, although with us for a short time, has achieved a tremendous amount and lead the team through one of the most challenging situations we’ve faced. I want to wish her well and a full recovery, I know she will be supporting us from the side lines.

About you

I’ve been working for OAB since 2014 as Client Services Manager after working for a similar charity in West Sussex. My role has mainly been focused on our clients, supporting them and leading the team, so I’m really hoping to use this as a foundation as I step up to this new challenge!

Being visually impaired (VI) since birth, I know first-hand some of the struggles and barriers that we all face, day to day. It is also a real testament to OAB that a VI person has been appointed as CEO and that we as an organisation know and believe that visually impaired people not only can work, but can work in senior roles; sadly, disability history shows that this has not always been the case.

I live in Witney with my wife and our little baby – who keeps us on our toes! When I get a chance, I really enjoy music, making food (and eating it!) plus listening to podcasts and audio books – like I said, when I get a chance! I’m passionate about inclusion, and ensuring that disabled people have opportunities to learn, grow, work and play an active part in their community.

Who is OAB?

We’re Oxfordshire Association for the Blind (OAB) and we’re here for anyone who has a visual impairment, whether it’s right at the beginning of diagnosis or after years of living with sight loss. We’ve been a part of the Oxfordshire community since 1877, so we are well established, you can find out more about our history here – OAB History. We’re a dedicated team of staff, trustees, volunteers, clients and supporters who really are passionate about ensuring blind and partially sighted people can live independently. That could be by teaching someone how to use a smartphone, providing connections at a group or by chatting over the telephone. You can find out more about our work here – Helping You.

What’s next?

We have a huge challenge ahead of us, not only are our services seeing greater demand because of Covid, we will inevitably face further financial challenges ahead, as purse strings become tighter. We also have a large and rural county to serve – with an estimated 22,900 people in the county living with sight loss – this will be no easy task. But we are determined to build back better, build back stronger and face these challenges head on, to serve and support our community.  

I’m really looking forward to connecting with as many people as possible, why not come along with us on this journey: – Mark.

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