ONE of the country’s leading schools for the visually impaired was awarded the Freedom of Liverpool on Wednesday 20 April. St Vincent’s School opened on its present site in West Derby in 1901, and is run by the Catholic Blind Institute which was founded in 1841 to provide care, relief and education for the visually impaired and poor of the city. Today, the school – rated ‘outstanding by the independent inspection body Ofsted – caters for 43 pupils with a range of visual, sensory and physical needs who come to it on a residential basis from local authorities across the country. The Institute also operates the neighbouring residential and nursing home Christopher Grange, which supports adults with visual impairment and also offers rehabilitation to those who lose their sight later in life, as well as literacy, numeracy and computer studies courses. Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Tony Concepcion, said: “This award is in recognition of St Vincent’s long history of being one of the most important in the country for the visually impaired. “The school does amazing work encouraging its young people to have a sense of achievement, responsibility, mutual respect and independence, and strives to fully integrate its pupils into society. “It achieves exceptional standards and is a life-changing institution, which is why its admission to the Freedom Roll of Associations and Institutions is richly deserved.” Work is currently underway progressing an education and enterprise village on the St Vincent’s School campus, providing space for business start-ups and entrepreneurs in return for giving business experience to older school pupils. Dr John Patterson, Principal of St Vincent’s School, said: “It is an honour to receive the Freedom of the City and something that everyone associated with the school is rightly proud of. “This award gives us a platform to share how we are helping visually impaired young people achieve their potential and give them the skills they need to go on to secure good jobs. “Through our new education and enterprise village, we aim to become a global centre of excellence for visual impairment research and innovation, teaching and learning.” At the ceremony the school’s choir brilliantly performed ‘He Ain’t Heavy’ and ‘Fix You’, prompting a standing ovation from the audience. More information about St Vincent’s School can be found at www.stvin.com or you can follow them on Twitter @StVincentsL12.