A Derbyshire charity has been awarded more than £85,000 to help visually impaired people.
Sight Support Derbyshire will use it to set up a new project called Forwards Together to support older people suffering sight loss.
It aims to minimise the risk of depression and other issues.
The charity will establish five such groups across Derby and Derbyshire.
The £85,773 was awarded from the Big Lottery's Fund Silver Dreams programme in association with the Derby Telegraph's sister paper, the Daily Mail.
Howard Birchall, trustee of Sight Support Derbyshire, helped put ideas forward for the project.
The 67-year-old, of Portreath Drive, Allestree said: "It was devastating when I found out I was losing my eyesight. It was in 1996 that I was diagnosed with a genetic inherited disease that causes haemorrhages in the back of my eyes. It happened so quickly. All of a sudden I started with double vision.
"I had no idea how much help was available to me and this money will really help to support other people. I'm so pleased."
Wife Paula, 68, said her husband found it hard to come to terms with his loss of sight.
She added: "He was very, very depressed. He was an avid reader and it was one of the things he missed the most.
"Fifteen years down the line, it is much easier. Howard does have a quality of life and he has had so much support. I think the money is brilliant, there are a lot of people in Howard's situation who may not have any family and may feel alone so the project will really help them."
The Silver Dreams Fund will invest at least £10 million in grants between £50,000 and £200,000 to test new ideas over 12 to 18 months. Up to five of these will then be chosen to receive up to £1 million so it can be developed.
Ges Roulstone, Sight Support Derbyshire chief executive, said: "The funding will kick-start a fantastic new initiative that will enable people with sight loss to receive advice and support from people who understand the emotions involved better than anyone else – our service users."
Sight Support Derbyshire volunteer Terence Prater, was born with limited sight. The 65-year-old, of Sunny Hill, in Derby said: "This amount of money is absolutely tremendous. People can be empathetic and say they understand what it is like to be visually impaired but unless you have lived with it you will never know.
"The money will help to let people know that there is support and help out there."
Source: This is Derbyshire
To listen to Howard Birchall talking about the Silver Dreams award please click here...