Henshaws Heroes – Volunteers

Meet Nina – our Henshaws hero volunteer who despite numerous surgeries, the loss of an eye, a cataract removal all whilst being a mother of one, is still willing to give up her time for free to help others.

We are immensely proud and grateful to our team of volunteers for their selfless commitment, enthusiasm and passion. Without them providing their time and skills we would not be able to provide many of our life changing services.

Many of our volunteers choose Henshaws as a result of either being a current service user or having used a service in the past. Through their experience they want to return and help support the organisation that supported them when they needed it most.

Nina currently volunteers with the Fundraising team helping them to organise and research events – she shares with us her story below:


“My name is Nina Chesworth and I am 33 years old and severely sight impaired. I have had an eye condition since I was 2 years of age after catching the flu virus. Although seen by a number of professionals they were never able to provide a single diagnosis for my condition. The closest they got was ‘chronic uvititis’.

I have had 4 x corneal transplants, 2 x lens transplants and a cataract removal. My first successful corneal transplant was under Dr F Larkin at Moorfields. It was the first graft under immune suppressants that worked and gave me great vision for the first time since being two. I could read a newspaper for the first time without magnifying aids.

Unfortunately this didn’t last as I lost my right eye in a freak office accident in 2009 which was upsetting and difficult for me to come to terms with at first.

After losing my right eye this meant my left eye was left with the pressure of sight. The current graft in my left eye had been rejected over 20 years ago and it began to feel the pressure.

I was very anxious about having further surgery and so I waited until my left eye was at its worst and I was finding things too difficult to do, before I decided on further surgery.

That time came in March this year as my sight was blurred and foggy constantly whereas it used to be just be in the mornings. So I felt that I had to go ahead with the surgery. I was scared and very anxious going into it with only having the left eye now. The risks were a lot higher with any further surgery.  The thought of having some form of better vision was what got me through the decision and the process itself. I had a partial corneal graft in March which Dr Larkin preferred to do until he had further research behind him on his current method of stem cell treatment.

I can safely say that Nina 1every bit of worry and anxiety was well and truly worth it. I had so much support from friends and family during and after, that it made it easier and the vision, although not as improved as I was hoping for (but I think we all wish for 20/20 vision), is amazing.

I feel like my left eye has been auto focused and is no longer foggy. There is still a bit to go and eventually I will have a full corneal graft but taking this little step will make the big one easier to bare.

Throughout all of my eye problems I have had Henshaws supporting and helping me with technology and advice as well as my friends and family who have been my rock.

I am a proud mum. My son Dylan and my husband Steve have been a big support in my life in the  last 7 years.  I have managed to get a degree in Design and Art Direction and I love all things crafty. These are the things that help me get through the hard times and despite my sight problems I am determined not to let it define me as a person.

Photo of Ninas glass crafts Photo of a necklace made by Nina

I am delighted to be back at Henshaws helping as a volunteer and look forward to helping others achieve beyond expectations.”

If you’re interested in joining our fantastic crew of volunteers like Nina, check out our volunteer page at henshaws.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering

Nina’s beautiful crafts can be found at facebook.com/rosieloudesignsuk/ or follow her on  twitter @rosielouarts14.

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Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

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