A CHAMPION of York’s blind has died aged 74 after a life-time of campaigning on behalf of those lacking the gift of sight.

Brian Smith, of Dringhouses, was a founder member of York Blind and Partially Sighted Society which he helped register as a charity in July 1979.

Originally called York and District Society for the Visually Handicapped, Mr Smith and his co-founders were concerned about a lack of facilities in York.

Initially entirely voluntary, the society later took on staff, opened the first Resource Centre at 61 Bootham, and founded a network of services to aid independent living.

Brian was a president – and later honorary president - of the Society, chaired York branch of Guide Dogs for the Blind, and was a leading member of York Lions Club.

In 2009, his eighth guide dog, a three-year-old golden retriever/German shepherd cross called Nina, was sworn in as a Lion to accompany him on official business.

He campaigned tirelessly for the visually handicapped, and became a rallying point for fund-raising for the latest project, usually accompanied by his current guide dog.

Mr Smith, who was blind from birth, was originally from Middlesbrough but came to York when he was five to attend York School for the Blind, then at King’s Manor.

While at school he met and later married Anne, from Leeds, who lost her sight when she was 14 after diving into a swimming pool and banging her head.

The couple, of Don Avenue, Dringhouses, always said that despite being blind they did their best to lead a normal life.

Mr Smith passed away peacefully at St Leonard’s Hospice on April 1 and his funeral was held on Tuesday at York Crematorium.

He is survived by Anne and the couple’s sighted son Mark.