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BLIND WOMAN IS CENTRE LICENSEE; UK and Euro first for chairwoman.

Byline: PETRA MANN

Social Affairs Reporter A LIVERPOOL woman has become the country's first blind licensee.

Linda Perry, 56, was born with the eye condition glaucoma and eventually lost her sight 11 years ago.

But, despite her condition, Liverpool magistrates granted the mother-offive a joint licence for the New Century Halls community centre, in Walton.

It is thought Mrs Perry, chairwoman for the community centre on Heathcote Road, is also the first blind licensee in Europe.

Mrs Perry, from Walton, said: ``I'm absolutely delighted our application was successful. This means a lot to me and my family.

``It just shows it's not a question of a person's disability - but their ability to do the job. I couldn't be happier.''

Mrs Perry, whose constant companion is dog Nanu, got full marks in her licensee exam and will manage the bar at the centre along with Serane Shepherd, 36, a mother-of-three, from Southport.

Serane said: ``There's no doubt that Linda is the best person for the job.

``It's a demanding role with a lot of responsibility but she's more than up to it - everyone involved in the centre is behind her 100%.''

Mrs Perry, whose father used to work for a brewery, added: ``The magistrates asked how I would deal with under-age drinkers if I couldn't see them.

``I told them licensees with sight can't always spot underage drinkers and that my staff would be keeping an eye on customers.

``Being blind does not mean a person can't achieve the same as a person with sight.''

Tony Payne, of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers, said: ``This is definitely a first - to our knowledge a blind person has never been granted a license like this in the UK, possibly in Europe.''

A spokesman for the Royal National Institute for the Blind said: ``This is a great achievement and shows blind people are just as capable as others.''

CAPTION(S):

SUCCESS: Linda with Serane and Nanu
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 17, 2002
Words:322
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