Ellen Margaret de Fraine Shield

Nominated by: Alison Deuchars

In 1965 BucksVision’s annual arts and crafts competition was born with the Ellen Margaret de Fraine shield being presented to the winning Division.

BucksVision, formerly Buckinghamshire Association for the Blind (BAB), is a Buckinghamshire charity and has been supporting people with sight loss to live independently since 1911.

“The committee considered that house bound blind people should be able to participate in the inter-divisional competition for the handsome de Fraine shield and classes have been designed to include handicrafts, cake baking, songs, poems etc recorded on portable tape-recorders.”

BAB’s 50th Annual Report 1964-1965

The presentation of the de Fraine Shield was the brainchild of Miss G.M.de Fraine who wished to perpetuate her mother, Ellen’s, memory in a useful way. Ellen had sight loss, and this is how they both came to be involved with BucksVision.

The Ellen Margaret de Fraine Shield itself has over 50 individual shields on it and each one represents a winner of the competition from 1965 to the last one, awarded in 2016, when the Shield was retired; and in 2018 the competition was relaunched as the BucksVision Showcase. The competition is open to anyone living in Buckinghamshire with sight loss and participants can enter into 20 different classes covering baking, music, art, craft, photography and horticulture. The competition is designed to celebrate the creative talents of blind and partially sighted people and to challenge perceptions around the abilities of those with sight loss.

This object is a significant part of BucksVision’s history. The de Fraine competition was an annually celebrated event, with over 300 entries involved each year, and played a big part in the calendar of the charity’s social activities. It was a chance for members and volunteers across Buckinghamshire to come together in friendly rivalry to compete for the de Fraine Shield. Although individuals competed against each other to win rosettes and trophies, the de Fraine Shield was awarded to a Division (a specific geographical area of the county which members and volunteers belonged to) and it generally went to the Division whose members won the most rosettes. We have many photos of Divisional members and volunteers through the years proudly showing off the de Fraine Shield.

As an employee of BucksVision and a lover of history I was delighted to take part in the organisation of the competition and found the de Fraine Shield fascinating especially when compiling the history of the competition for its 50th Anniversary celebration in 2015. Personally, Buckinghamshire is my home and always will be, having lived in county since I was 5 and grown up here. It is great to be able to work for a charity which supports people living in Buckinghamshire.

The Ellen Margaret de Fraine Shield was nominated by Alison Deuchars, Office and Service Delivery Manager for BucksVision