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Byline: By LISA JONES South Wales Echo

Shoppers were taken back to 1865 as Cardiff's oldest charity celebrated its 140th anniversary.More than 200 staff and supporters of the Cardiff Institute for the Blind, with costumes dating from the Victorian era until the present day, took to the streets on Saturday.

Headed by a jazz band, supporters waved banners as they marched through Queen Street - including an army major and the CIB's founder, Victorian lady Frances Batty Shand, Winston Churchill and even Elvis, who sang to the crowds over a speaker.

'Cardiff CIB has given me my self belief back,' said visually-impaired Danny Gomez, 48, of Plasturton Avenue, Pontcanna, who was dressed as Churchill.

He joined computer classes at the institute, which also provides training, home visits and support for people with visual impairments.

He said: 'When I lost my sight I thought it was the end of the world. The centre has helped so much.'

Elvis impersonator and CIB assistant Gareth Jones, who helps assess people's eyesight, said: 'It's such a rewarding job when you see just how much the institute helps people.'

After the march, volunteers, staff and CIB members enjoyed a party at the centre's base in Shand House, Newport Road.

'We wanted to show people we're helping 7,500 people in the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff,' said CIB fundraising manager Michelle Jones, 36, who braved the May weather in a bright pink 50s-style top and dirndl skirt.

'We're not funded by anybody and must raise pounds 350,000-a-year ourselves to survive.

'We can't collect during the parade but we hope the walk will encourage people to make donations.'

Volunteer Eirwen Roberts, 61, of Groveland Road, Birchgrove, who helps patients with hospital appointments, said: 'The CIB is like a family. It really helps people to have us with them for check ups.': THE OLDEST CHARITY IN CARDIFF:It was founded in 1865 by Frances Batty Shand, the daughter of a Jamaican plantation owner. She opened a small workshop in Canton employing four blind men.By 1900 there were 100 blind men and women manufacturing baskets, mats, brushes, ships' fenders and sewing in a shop in Longcross Street off Newport Road.

The current CIB Shand House is base on Newport Road and opened in 1953 after Longcross Street was destroyed during a German air raid in 1941. To make donations call 029 2048 5414.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 16, 2005
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