Network Norwich and Norfolk > Regional News > Torch celebrates 40 years of local fellowship

Torch celebrates 40 years of local fellowship

The Norwich Torch Fellowship Group is holding an anniversary celebration event. The group continues to provide friendship, support and accessible Christian literature to visually impaired people. They are also appealing for volunteer drivers and helpers.

In 1973 Britain joined the European Economic Community and the Norwich Torch Fellowship Group met for the first time at the Social Centre for the Blind in  Catherine Wheel 
Opening, St. Augustines Street!  A group of visually impaired Christians from various churches in Norwich (some of the founders are pictured right) supported by sighted helpers and the national charity, Torch Trust for the Blind, started the group to enable fellowship and the distribution of accessible Christian literature. 

Numbers grew and at one stage over 100 blind and sighted people attended the group each month with those who were unable to get there due to distance or infirmity listening to the proceedings on cassette tape.

The numbers attending have dropped to around 40 since then for various reasons but Mervyn Ivany, visually impaired chair of the group said, "There is still a need for groups like ours as over 100 people in the UK are told every day that their sight loss is permanent."

With the resources available to us from Torch Trust, our parent charity, we would love to involve more local churches and volunteers in reaching out to the visually impaired in Norfolk especially those with recent sight loss. The 40th anniversary gives us a chance to advertise what we do".

Guest speakers at the 40th celebration will be Carol and Brian Nokes from Torch Trust and they will be talking about the facilities and resources they can provide to support individuals and local groups.

Here's a few examples:

  • Those who have recently lost their sight can receive practical information and encouragement in a relaxing setting at Torch's “Moving Forward” weekends which are held regularly at their own Holiday and Retreat Centre in Sussex.
  • Listeners to the weekly Reflections radio programme broadcast on Insight Radio and Premier Christian Radio, are able to hear how other disabled Christians meet and overcome everyday challenges.
  • Groups of blind people who often live alone and are socially isolated use TorchTalk teleconferencing technology to have Christian fellowship together and discuss a theme of common interest over the phone
  • Torch Book Groups offer blind people a chance to meet together and discuss a Christian book that they have read and which is available in accessible formats.

Churches wanting to be more inclusive of blind people can obtain a resource pack by signing up to Torch's Foursight for the Church initiative at

Churches with visually impaired members will soon be able to produce their newsletters and worship materials conveniently in a variety of print sizes using Torch's Worship For All facility.

The work of TORCH TRUST and affiliated Fellowship Group like the Norwich one rely heavily on the contribution made by volunteers and Norwich Torch Fellowship Group are currently looking for committee members, drivers, people willing to visit people in their own homes and someone to lead a Torch book group.

Anyone, whether they are visually impaired or sighted who would like to learn more about what Torch does are welcome to attend the 40th service.

Event details

The 40th Birthday Celebration Service and Tea
Saturday 7th September at 3PM
City Church, Cowgate, Norwich NR3 1SZ

For more details, phone Dorothy on 01603 425338 or visit 

The group meet regularly at City Church, Cowgate, Norwich NR3 1SZ on the 2nd Sunday of the month except August at 3PM

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