Acle mum believed to be county’s first blind district counillor

SHE'S a mother of three, helps her husband run their own energy consultancy company that spans the UK and Europe and serves as a parish councillor in her home town of Acle.

Lana Hempsall is also registered blind and after winning her seat on the toss of a coin, has become what is believed to be Norfolk's first blind district councillor.

It's a mantle that 40-year-old Mrs Hempsall is taking completely in her stride – not to mention the pawprints of her loyal collie-retriever cross guide dog Clark, who helps her get about and make her hectic life possible.

Mrs Hempsall has an inherited macular degeneration condition known as stargardt disease and has been progressively losing her sight since her early teens. She still has a little vision, but knows the condition will not get any better.

Despite her full and fulfilling lifestyle, becoming a Conservative Broadland District Councillor, representing the needs of thousands of people in the Acle area, has brought new and daunting challenges for Mrs Hempsall.

And she readily admits that a visit to the Magpie Road, Norwich headquarters of the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind could help her solve them.

After having no previous contact with the NNAB, Mrs Hempsall visited the equipment and information centre in the charity's Bradbury Activity Centre to get up to speed with the wide range of aids on display there.

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After a meeting with the centre's manager, Dorothy Bowen, Mrs Hempsall said she now had a far more clear idea of the equipment available to help her in her new role.

She is now looking at incorporating a Mac-compatible hand held scanner on to her computer, which already has a screen reader and screen enhancement zoom.

District council officers and members have also been helpful in making the changes necessary for Mrs Hempsall to do her job, including setting up a taxi account so she can get to meetings more easily, and providing agenda papers and other documents electronically rather than in print form.