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Atkin - Workers for the Blind

Image from The Church in Barton from October 1972 showing the Atkins who had a long history of serving the blind


In this and subsequent months, it is our intention to interview people in Barton about their lives and interests. Our first, and I hasten to add, somewhat reluctant subject in this new venture is Mr. J. Atkin of Ferriby Road, Barton.
Joe Atkin was born fifty years ago at Irby on Humber, the third of four sons. The family later moved to Horkstow. His father was an active social worker for Scunthorpe Hospital, and it was from him an his mother that Joe derived a strong sense of the social welfare of others.
This concern was directed as early as the age of ten towards the blind. There was, in Horkstow, at this time, a small shop, owned and run by a blind person. As well as selling goods to the village folk, this man occupied himself with many of the crafts associated with blind people. Joe, along with some of the other village boys, used to spend many an evening in his company. For many years until Joe was called up, a friendship developed between the two of them. The blind man looked forward to Joe´s visits and the walks on which Joe would take him.
During the war, Joe saw active service in North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean . On his return home, Joe found that the blind man had married and moved to Winterton.Shortly afterwards, in September 1948, Joe married and moved to Barton, where he has lived ever since. His bride, Vera, was a Hull girl, who has since been a constant help and encouragement in his work.
Joe himself says that at this time there was a lapse in his activities although not in his interest in the blind. The friendship with the blind man continued until his death. Then he was approached by the local branch of Toc H in the person of the late Mr. Sid Simons, whom many of us will well remember. All their work at this time was for the blind. Joe became involved  in the brangh's work until recently when he became an independent area worker for the blind. This now involves a great deal of work on his own. Part of this work is centred around the blind residents at the Willows Old People´s Home in Barton. During the winter months Joe and Vera hold small Whist Drives in their own home, run raffles, coffee evenings etc. to raise funds. Their efforts were such a financial success last year, that they were able to prsent each blind resident of the Willows with a basket of fruit and a box of handerchiefs - aa can be seen in the photograph.
Joe´s other achievements are far too numerous to include in this article. He attributes a great deal to the constant support of his wife and his family, Stephen 21 and Liz 16, not to mention his work colleagues at Rugby Cement where he has been employed ever since the war. Of the latter, he says that they are always willing to support all his ventures.
This is true of a great many more people, as was well evident at Saint Chad´s Church last Thursday evening on the occasion of a Coffee Evening for the blind.
In conclusion, when asked what incentive there was behind his work, Joe summed up in the words of an old song:

'If I can help somebody along life´s way,
Then my living will not be in vain.'


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