A SOCIAL group for the blind has celebrated its 10th birthday with a party.

Gwendraeth Amman Blind Social Club (GABS) was set up by former member Linda Rees who was looking for a group that was not church led. It started with just four members and settled on a home at Ammanford fire station’s community room, it was then called Friends of the Blind.

But on January 20, 2010 the group decided it wanted to be more business-like, a constitution was written, newsletters were replaced with formal minutes and the name changed to GABS.

Ten years on and numbers have grown and friendships have formed. Over the years the group has taken part in projects with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and appeared on S4C. They have been instrumental in helping facilities learn more about how to guide the visually impaired, including the Botanic Gardens of Wales.

Five years ago a visually impaired bowls group called GABS VI Bowls was formed. Group secretary Maureen Davies said: “The bowls group is open to the community, you don’t have to be a GABS member to join in. It has taken off fantastically and is well attended every Wednesday morning.”

The self-funded group has recently welcomed MP Jonathan Edwards as their patron.

Maureen added: “We are so happy to have Jonathan as our patron. We are thrilled to have his support.”

Praising the group Mr Edwards said: “I would like to congratulate the Gwendraeth Amman Blind Social Group on reaching their 10th birthday.

“The work of this support group is important in tackling social exclusion and I look forward to seeing the group continue to flourish over the years ahead.”

Members have praised the group for giving back their confidence in what can be a very lonely and scary time.

Rhianedd Jones said: “I am so proud of this group we are a very special family. Losing your eyesight is scary and the support you receive is fantastic.”

The group has its own rehabilitation officer, Karen Roderick, who is on hand to offer advice and support.

Brian Hobart, who was forced to give up his job of 49 years after losing sight in one eye, praised Karen’s work. “She has done wonderful work for this group,” he said. “It is scary to have to give up work Karen has shown me that I’m not alone and there is help and support available.” GABS meet on the third Wednesday of month in the fire station.