Fiona's life changed completely when she lost her eyesight after contracting Stephen Johnson Syndrome from severe shock following a course of antibiotics. She felt increasingly isolated, as she was no longer being able to work or drive, and she became depressed. In 2012, she met Alex Wheen who ran visually impaired (VI) tennis sessions in Cambridge and, after getting involved herself, her mental health and wellbeing improved.
In a bid to help other people in a similar situation regain their confidence, last year the pair set up vision4growth - a charity aimed at creating opportunities for people with sight loss. As its Community Services Director, Fiona has set up a visually impaired tennis club for people to play tennis with sessions at Hills Road tennis centre. Vision4growth hosted the second annual VI tennis tournament in Cambridge earlier this year, and won three out of the six trophies.
Fiona, who is now a qualified tennis trainer, also co-runs the organisation's social media sites vision4growth Twitter and Facebook and VI Tennis UK Facebook which provides advice and support in accessible format for many visually impaired people.
As the 143rd winner of the award, she said: "I'm absolutely flabbergasted. Vision4growth is about working in partnership with volunteers and professional sports providers. It is about enjoying ourselves whilst keeping fit, establishing good social skills with other groups and gaining peer support.
"This award is a reflection of a team of hard working and dedicated people. A huge thanks also to my family, without their support this would never have been achieved."
Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Fiona is an inspiration. She has channelled her own immensely challenging experiences into creating a tennis club that is helping many people who have lost their sight to relax, socialise, have fun and rebuild their confidence. Her positivity and passion set her apart from the crowd and will no doubt continue to propel the success of the club and her charity, vision4growth. I am delighted to honour her achievements with a Point of Light award."
For more information follow @vision4growth @LTAEastRegion and find inspiring testimonials at www.vision4growth.org.uk/ or via Vision4Growth and VI Tennis UK facebook pages.
Full article at www.lta.org.uk/Tennis-Foundation/News1/2014/Latest-News---October/Blind-tennis-coach-honoured-with-Points-of-Light-Award/