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Tribute to Dickon Bowling – longstanding volunteer

Bhavini Makwana remembers Dickon Bowling, a longstanding volunteer with what was East London Vision (ELVis), Waltham Forest Vision, Beyond Sight Loss and other sight loss organisations in the capital, who sadly passed away on 16 May, aged 82.

Bhavini Makwana

I first met Dickon while working as Activities Coordinator for East London Vision, a sight loss organisation based in east London. I loved this role and the opportunity it gave me to help enhance opportunities for blind and partially sighted people in east London. In this role I frequently organised events and activities for members, and this is where I met Dickon, who supported me during outings, events and meetings as a volunteer.

Dickon was a truly remarkable man. He began volunteering in his late 70s and he was extremely enthusiastic about his role: nothing was too much; he was always available whenever he was needed and did everything with a smile. Dickon ensured that not only the person he was supporting was happy, but other members, volunteers, and me! I remember our chats during lunch or on coaches to or from trips. He always made a point to share what a great job I was doing and in turn I loved hearing about his life, his work with Kew Gardens, and growing up in London, Nigeria and Ghana. He was a very humble and kind-hearted man.

Whenever there was an outing to visit gardens, such as Capel Manor, Trent Park or Kew, I knew Dickon would be there. His passion and wealth of knowledge was incredibly extensive as he worked at Kew for over 40 years. He was well known at the gardens and of course had lots of useful insights about them that he was always happy to share with us at outings.

Waltham Forest Vision

He also volunteered extensively for Waltham Forest Vision, another east London-based sight loss organisation. Their chair Desen, and committee member Neil Adie said of Dickon:

“Dickon was a wonderful and truly dedicated volunteer and friend, whatever needed doing he didn’t hesitate and always happy to do so: making teas/coffees, guide members whenever required and read documents when necessary.

We will be lost without him. He was incredibly reliable, often going above and beyond what was expected of him as a volunteer. He would volunteer to pick up members from home and bring them to meetings and back again; in so doing he gave many members renewed confidence in travelling on public transport.

RIP you lovely man, God rest your soul”

Beyond Sight Loss

Beyond Sight Loss, a group in Tower Hamlets chaired by Ashrafia Choudhury also had the pleasure of knowing Dickon as a volunteer in recent years. Even in this short time, Dickon made an impact on which Ashrafia reflects:

“Always smiling, Dickon never turned away from any tasks given and always went beyond what was required. He volunteered with pride and was always kind and considerate to others, making everyone at meetings and outings relaxed. He had particular interest in the wellbeing of our members and was a very thoughtful and caring person. Not just a volunteer but a friend to many.”

He will truly be missed and his time he devoted to help others will never be forgotten. All of us who worked with Dickon at East London Vision and the local societies will miss him dearly and our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and loved ones.

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