RNIB Scotland celebrates their late Patron The Queen
National sight loss charity RNIB Scotland commemorated its late patron The Queen on 15th March by joining with Edinburgh Lord Provost Robert Aldridge to plant a tree in the city’s Hillside Crescent Gardens.
The tree-planting ceremony took place at 12-14 Hillside Crescent, Edinburgh at 10.45am today.
The site is opposite the charity’s headquarters in the crescent, a long-established service hub and social haven for the city’s 15,000 blind and partially sighted people.
Lord Provost Aldridge will note that The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, created to mark her Platinum Jubilee, has now seen over a million new trees planted in her name across the UK.
“Over the last year in Edinburgh, we have planted a large number of new trees as part of the national Canopy,” he said, “1,270 new trees planted at Stenhouse, and most recently on Calton Hill to highlight our fantastic Ukrainian community. Growing the Canopy through planting more trees is a lasting tribute to Her Majesty’s extraordinary seven-decade service to our country and to all of our peoples.”
The Lord Provost recalled that The Queen was an annual visitor to Edinburgh throughout her reign. “After celebrating her Platinum Jubilee only a few months earlier, this city, our nation, and those around the world were stunned and shocked by the sudden death of Her Majesty at Balmoral Castle.
“The atmosphere in our city quickly changed and became the focal point of mourning in Scotland, and our military, police, ceremonial, public, charitable and other services – alongside old and young alike – came together to offer their great respect. I could not have been prouder of our city, of our people and of our community.”
Matt Stringer, chief executive of RNIB said: “Her Majesty became RNIB’s patron in 1952 and made a tremendous contribution to our work. She was a passionate advocate for the rights of blind and partially sighted people and generously hosted many receptions on our behalf. RNIB was honoured to have had The Queen’s company at gala events over the years. Her presence elevated any event for our donors, guests and service users.
“Her Majesty’s support over the decades helped us work towards our hopes for a world where blind and partially sighted people can participate equally.”
A plaque has been placed alongside the deciduous tree that reads in both text and braille:
‘This tree is planted in lasting memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Patron of the Royal National Institute of Blind People for 70 years. On behalf of the blind and partially sighted community of Edinburgh and Scotland, Robert Aldridge, The Right Honourable Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, unveiled this plaque on 15 March 2023’.
Sylvia Paton, a member of RNIB Scotland from Corstorphine, said: “The Queen lent us her support and encouragement to reach out to and help all blind and partially sighted people. I’m so glad the tree we have planted today will mark and celebrate the backing she gave us.
“The tree is called a ‘davidia involucrate’ or ‘dove tree’, and will reach heights of between 20 and 25 meters, with lovely white and purple flowers. I hope it will stand as a proud Edinburgh token and tribute to our late Monarch and her wish to encompass all of her people, whatever their abilities or disabilities.”
Queen Victoria was the charity’s first royal patron after the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) was founded in 1868 by Thomas Rhodes Armitage, a physician who had lost his own sight.
Since then, RNIB has established itself as the UK’s leading sight loss charity, advocating and campaigning for the rights of blind and partially sighted people and helping them to live as fully and independently as possible.
Around 183,000 people are currently living with sight loss in Scotland and two million across the UK.