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Torch News


Message from our Chair of Trustees

Posted: 27th March 2020 by Dr. Mike Townsend

The Trustees have asked that I inform you that Julia Hyde is leaving her employment with Torch Trust on the 31st March, Julia will remain on sick leave until this date. 

Julia has brought lots of energy and fresh ideas to Torch and worked hard to set up our Sight Loss Friendly Church initiative. We wish her all the best for her future.

Please pray.

These are very challenging times. The Executive Team and Trustees are prayerfully looking to God to guide us. Key areas of work are carrying on with staff involved both at Torch House and home working. we are looking at easy-to-use technologies to help our friends and clients stay connected and support them spiritually in these difficult times.

We have a loving and caring God, "cast all your cares on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).

Dr. Mike Townsend, Chair

Torch Trust updated statement in relation to Covid-19

Posted: 25th March 2020 by Michael Heaney

Following further restrictions advocated within the wider society for the benefit of all, and our duty of care towards our staff team, we have had to make a further review of how we can operate. Torch House will still currently be in operation, albeit with an absolute minimum of staff onsite to continue to provide services with priority towards the production of accessible Christian resources (including Bible Reading Notes), and the library service.

Our usual telephone lines with support for our clients remain operating and handled by staff from their homes. However, this is not at our full capacity so do bear with us when trying to contact us.

We continue to review and cancel as necessary any upcoming Torch Together events, anyone already booked on an event cancelled will be contacted in due course to arrange refunds. We have cancelled any dates currently set for Church or Group visits/SLFC training/exhibitions for the foreseeable future.

We have also advised Torch Fellowship Groups who cannot now meet in person to try to make every effort of supporting people online and by the telephone. Indeed, we will be using this time to review, advise and promote how best the many platforms for remote meetings and fellowship can still take place.

These are incredibly challenging days for us all and for those living with sight loss is an added consideration. In these unprecedented times we continue to invite your prayers, acts of kindness towards each other, and as able any financial support, without which we would be unable to continue.

In respect of financial support, we would really benefit in these times from online donations to limit the manual processing of cheques. Torch's bank details are - Torch Trust for the Blind, SORT CODE: 40-52-40, Account Number: 00017072. It is really helpful to quote a reference if you have one, your Client Code if you know it, or simply your post code will help us identify you.

As a ministry centered upon Jesus Christ, we turn to God in these days to ask for his peace upon ourselves, our communities and all those close to us.

Torch Trust latest statement in relation to Covid-19

Posted: 19th March 2020 by Michael Heaney

Subject to availability of staffing and services Torch House will remain open as normal to continue to provide services with priority towards printed resources, library service and telephone support of our clients.

Only essential minimal staff are working safely on site with all others working from home.

In view of the latest government advice decisions are being taken to review and cancel as necessary any upcoming Torch Together events, anyone already booked on an event cancelled will be contacted in due course to arrange refunds.

We are also cancelling any dates currently set for Church or Group visits/SLFC training/exhibitions for the foreseeable future.

We advise Torch Fellowship Groups to also heed the general advice and to cease meeting in person for the foreseeable future and to try to make every effort of supporting people online and by the telephone.

These are challenging days for us all and for those living with sight loss this presents additional challenges. In these unprecedented times we continue to invite your prayers, acts of kindness towards each other, and as able any financial support without which we would be unable to continue.

Message from the new chair of trustees

Posted: 7th March 2020 by Dr. Mike Townsend

Message from the new chair of trustees Picture

From March 1st 2020, I have the honour and responsibility of being the new chair of Torch Trust. For some time, Marilyn Baker has served God in this role. She has been a blessing and immense pastoral lead over several years. She now feels it is time to place more emphasis on her other activities. Marilyn remains a trustee and will support us pastorally.

This is a time of change in Torch. The Governing documents for the Trust state that one of the key roles of chair is to be an ambassador. At the very heart of Torch are its core values which are: Christ centred, people focused, open, and creative. We have some exciting projects including Torch Together and Sight Loss Friendly Church. I am also excited about the fresh opportunities of helping blind and partially sighted people build their relationship with God through the use of technology.

I look forward to renewing links , making new friendships, and supporting you all in God's good future.

Please pray for me.

A Letter from our Chairperson - Marilyn Baker

Posted: 7th December 2019

A letter from our Chairperson, Marilyn Baker

‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ Joshua 1:5b.

This wonderful promise was given to Joshua when he was facing a very big change in his life. His beloved mentor Moses had died. Would God work just as powerfully through him as He had through Moses?

God reassured him: ‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.’ He doesn’t have favourites and wants to work through all His children. He was with Israel in this new season and is with us in Torch too.

This year we celebrated 60 years of the Lord’s amazing work through Torch and we now need to lean on Him as we move into a new phase of partnering in His work.

Sight Loss Friendly Church is our key initiative where we long to see people with sight loss more connected than ever before to their local spiritual communities; truly becoming part of church life, valued, and using their gifts to enrich the body of Christ. Please pray for us that Torch can make strong relationships with churches, so they too can catch this vision.

Our Holiday and Retreat Centre will close at the end of December, and we thank God with all our hearts for the wonderful work that has been done there, and for the many lives changed. So many people have found faith and restoration in their lives and discovered the joy of belonging and acceptance. We are actively seeking a new way forward for HRC. We pray that God’s purpose for HRC will be fulfilled. We don’t know what this will look like yet, so please pray that God will show us His perfect plans. Pray for the remaining holidays this year, including the Christmas and pre-Christmas holidays, that they will be full of joy, and for our wonderful staff and volunteers who have served us so faithfully that God will guide them into the new works He has for them and will look after their every need.

Thinking of Christmas, I am excited to share that I’ve just released a new Christmas album: Hallelujah Christmas, jazzing up some traditional carols and adding some of my own. Here are some words from my song Rescue Plan to give you an idea:

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, we can find this love again;

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, finding God as Father and Friend.

And He’s here today with His arms outstretched

He can fill you with His love.

Open up your hearts to this mighty power from above.

Drink in the hope of the Christmas story, knowing that Jesus loves us so much that He left Heaven’s glory to be with us in all our struggles and frailty. He knows what it is to be poor and He willingly carries our sorrows and shame. Through Him we can truly know not just that God will be with us in our own lives but will guide and bless the work of Torch too.

The Lord has promised to lead us as we continually seek Him, and we so much value your love and prayers at this time. We look forward to seeing you in future fellowship events we will arrange, so do watch this space for news and keep in touch.

May you know the joy and peace of Emmanuel, God with us, this Christmas, Marilyn.

Torch Alternative Black Friday Guide

Posted: 27th November 2019

Torch Alternative Black Friday Guide Picture

Whilst many people are thinking about the commercial and material aspects of Christmas, we are delighted to offer you some FREE alternatives to fill your heart rather than empty your wallet.


A conversation with God is never a waste of time. Sometimes setting out a deliberate prayer slot in your diary can really help that connection. Torch has a Daily Prayer guide as well as our Prayer Diary Resource 

Why not visit our website every day to be inspired in your daily prayers?

Connect with your Bible

Connect with your Bible is a fresh way – have you ever used Bible notes to support you? – Torch offers 4 different types in various media. Also try using our daily Bible reading resource which offers a daily verse to inspire you. 

Give your time

Volunteer for Torch – we are so thrilled to have some dedicated and treasured volunteers. If you are local to Market Harborough and would like to be involved, then please do get in touch.

If you live further afield you could start with your own church, visit and find out how you can ensure anyone with sight loss can enjoy fellowship at your church.


Listen to our free Torch Radio show! We produce a weekly radio programme called Reflections. Aired on both Premier Radio and RNIB Connect Radio, the show has features on faith and disability in today’s world and is also available as a weekly podcast, featuring all episodes from that month. 

God’s new plans for Torch

Posted: 23rd September 2019

Dear Torch friends


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11


We are writing to you to share some important news about how we are developing the future ministry of Torch.  We have been so blessed to celebrate 60 years of Torch’s ministry, serving God through our relationship with blind and partially sighted people.  In that time Torch Trust has regularly heard God’s call and has faithfully responded to God’s leading in numerous ways, in different places for his purposes. 

It began 60 years ago when The Heath’s welcomed young blind people into their home and through meeting them understood their need for life changing accessible Christian literature. Blind and partially sighted people alongside others worked, lived and prayed together.  Eventually the Torch family grew to such a size that Mr and Mrs Heath championed the ‘big move’ to Hallaton.

Over 15 years ago Torch Trust entered a new season when it became a charitable company. As the ministry requirements grew, trustees followed God’s leading. Hallaton Hall was sold and the new, purpose-built Torch House enabled Torch to support even more people. 

In the last two years God has again very clearly got our attention, and we are entering into another new season with exciting developments. We have been challenged to review all our services, assess all the resources that God has so generously supplied, and refocus the ministry to reach and serve even more of those with sight loss for God.

Trustees met recently to look carefully at every area of our ministry, to reflect on the changing needs of those with sight loss and make decisions about how Torch continues to serve our existing and new clients.

Following this prayerful consideration, it became apparent that God was clearly calling us to continue to grow and develop our Accessible Christian Literature and also to actively support our partnership with churches.

In reviewing our holiday service over this past year, we have become aware that we need to make changes. Rather than limit the opportunity for spiritual refreshment at one location, we wish to create opportunities for more and in different parts of the UK. Furthermore the cost to Torch of running our centre has become increasingly difficult to afford, making our holiday service unviable alongside our other services. 

As the ending of holidays at our own centre marks the closing of a season, there is a new beginning. We are excited as we prepare a new offer for Torch friends old and new, the chance to get together in Christian friendship at different locations around the country. We hope to encourage volunteers and supporters to be involved in this new service in 2020 and look forward to sharing more details.

Friends, we ask you to pray with us for the all the people affected by this new direction.  Particularly the staff, volunteers, supporters and friends of HRC.  We know so many people have been blessed by their time at HRC and give thanks especially for those who have come to faith through the experience of love and friendship there.  Over the years we have had such faithful service from staff and volunteers based at HRC which has touched the lives of many of us.  We invite you to keep all of these special people in your prayers.

Every five seconds someone in the world goes blind, leaving them isolated and fearful about the future. The work of Torch is more important than ever before. This change in our ministry better serves the future work of Torch so that we can continue to offer accessible Christian literature, advice and guidance to Churches, and Christian friendship to blind and partially sighted people.

Trustees have every faith that God is leading us together into a new and exciting season for Torch. Thank you for putting your faith into action by joining Torch in prayer and supporting our work. Together we can enable people with sight loss to have fulfilling Christian lives.

With every blessing and thanks for your continued prayerful support of the ministry of Torch Trust.

Julia and Marilyn

Sight Loss Friendly Church

Posted: 19th August 2019

The Launch of Sight Loss Friendly Church (SLFC)

Sight Loss Friendly Church logo.jpg

Celebrating a Century

As cricket is played across the breadth and depth of the UK this summertime, at Torch Trust we are delighted to celebrate our own century, as we reach our first 100 churches who have made the pledge to join us on the journey to become Sight Loss Friendly.
The map at Torch House is being added to as each church signs up, demonstrating across our great country that the needs of those living with sight loss are being recognised; with church leadership teams who want to know more about how they can play their part to enable each person to play theirs.

Visit our website and sign up so every one can find your church too.  

The SLFC team are busy meeting people, visiting and working with strategic and significant contacts to pursue this ministry and our ambitious aim to see all 50,000+ churches in the UK include and involve those with sight loss. From Keswick Convention, New Wine, Sight Village and in preparation for events in the Autumn, Torch are shining the light in communities across the UK to reach those living with sight loss where they are; to support churches to make an impact so everyone can play their part and feel valued in Christian communities.

If you are a SLFC or want to know more, or you know of a church who would like our help, we offer training, advice, resources and transcription service and we would be delighted to be in touch. For more info visit If you know of an individual with sight loss please do encourage them to contact us on 01858 438260 or email and our Client Services team would be delighted to talk to them about our accessible formats of Christian literature and daily Bible guides to support them on the journey of faith and discipleship. We receive so many encouraging letters from people who lives are changed this way, your action today may just hit the right wicket!

Celebrations at Torch House and Torch HRC - June 22nd.

Posted: 6th August 2019

TT-60th Anniversary logo_blue backgound_web.pngThis year Torch is delighted to be celebrating 60 years of ministry, reaching and enabling people with sight loss to have fulfilling Christian lives. We would like to offer our thanks to all of our supporters and clients, for however long you have been on the journey with us, in whatever way. We praise God for his wonderful provision in terms of the amazing people he has led to us. As ever, we remain: Christ Centred, People focussed, Open and Creative.
On June 22nd celebrations were held at both Torch House and Torch Holiday and Retreat Centre. Two of the many events that we know are being held, and yet to be planned this coming year, to celebrate this wonderful milestone. Celebrating the rich heritage of Torch Trust ministry.
The morning set a wonderful tone for the day’s celebrations with coffee and cake, a time of worship, sharing of stories, giving thanks and praying into the years ahead. Julia Hyde CEO led the celebrations, joined by many of the Torch team, friends old and new.
With the most glorious sunny afternoon, overlooking the South Downs, Torch HRC were blessed to share afternoon tea on the lawn. Led by Chair of Trustees, Marilyn Baker, guests were delighted by music, with singing and songs from Marilyn's new album, the Joy of my heart. As with the morning celebrations, participation in a time of prayer and thanksgiving for all that is past, and all yet to come, united guests to seek God’s continued blessing on Torch Trust. Local church representatives, friends old and new and the staff team had a great time.
You can find 'live' streaming from the morning event, and video and photos from HRC on the Torch Trust Facebook page.
What will you do where you are? Coffee morning, church event, open garden, sponsored event? The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. If you would like one of our celebration packs, please contact Client Services on 01858 438260.
We would love to encourage others by hearing your stories of Torch, however significant. We would love to hear from you, whatever you do, to celebrate in this 60th year.

60th celebrations in Banbridge, Northern Ireland

Posted: 5th July 2019

The Torch Fellowship Group based in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, celebrated the 60th Anniversary of Torch Trust at the beginning of June. A wonderful evening was held with a meal shared at the Belmont Hotel in Banbridge, followed by a programme of singing, poems, and a short talk about Sight Loss Friendly Church with some teaching from the Bible on the theme of ‘I am’.

Over 40 people joined together and a beautiful cake was made for the occasion.  The pictures show Leonard Campbell (Torch Area Development Officer) and one of the founding members of the group, Jill Hanna, cutting the cake. Picture two has Malcolm Mclean playing the accordion and the third is a picture of six tables full of guests enjoying the time together.

‘It was so encouraging to see how passionate the leaders are of this group to promote Torch’

This celebration is one of many organised to commemorate the anniversary.

We are delighted to hear of another in Northern Ireland planned for 17th August


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