An Engineering Manager from Lincolnshire is training to complete two 100 kilometre walks for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Stacey Whitworth, 44 and from Louth, will first be competing in the 100k Yorkshire, his second with the charity, on June 23-24. Shortly after that, on July 7- 8, Stacey will then be taking part in the 100k London to Brighton, his fourth with the charity.
Stacey explains that the original decision to take part in the events came from his own sight loss. He says: “In 2013 I was involved in an industrial accident where a machine blade went through my left eye. Incredibly, it missed the important part, though rest assured it looked, and felt, horrific. Fortunately the surgeons at Lincoln hospital were something else, meaning I still have 85% vision.
“Despite that, my recovery process was an incredibly worrying time. I grew a newfound appreciation for the struggles and difficulties that so many living with a vision-impairment face. I then came across the work Blind Veterans UK does and thought that the 100k London to Brighton would be a fantastic way to give something back to the sight loss community.”
Originally, Stacey intended to complete only one 100k, but the impression the event left on him was profound. He recalls: “It was just such a good event, such an enjoyable event, that I couldn’t possibly stop at one! There’s a fantastic group of people who take part every year and I feel lucky to have made some great friends along the way.
“It’s a huge physical challenge, of course, but the number of well-wishers who are there to cheer you on makes a huge difference. What really makes it all worthwhile though is when you reach the finish line and meet the blind veterans who are there to shake your hand. Make no mistake, you’re absolutely exhausted, but being in the presence of men and women who’ve given so much, and gone through so much, is a humbling feeling and one that pretty much guarantees you’ll be back there in a year’s time!”
For now, Stacey is turning his attention to getting the miles in and raising as much money as he can. He’s keen for others to take the plunge and sign up for a challenge he’s sure they’ll never regret. He says: “The opportunity to meet men and women living with sight loss is humbling, but the opportunity to raise money on their behalf is an absolute joy. You just don’t appreciate how precious your sight is until it’s in danger. For me, it was the little things like buying my 16 year-old daughter a prom dress last year. If I’d have lost my sight I’d have never been able to see it, and the dread with which that thought fills me is enormous.
“Aside from the appreciation you gain, it’s also the sense of achievement. I’ve been there, many times over, doubting myself, telling myself I can’t do it. With half way to go you’re always feeling terrible, but the magic of the event is that there’s always someone there to help you through to the next check point with a word of encouragement or reassuring pat on your back.
“Then, of course, the welcome you receive from the people at the end, the blind veterans for whom the event is run, makes you want to do it over and over again.”
The 100k London to Brighton will take place from 7 – 8 July 2018. It will see participants start off at the Hammersmith and Fulham Rugby Club, before crossing the North Downs, walking via woodland and small villages to Sussex and through the South Downs. The 100k Yorkshire will take place from 23 – 24 June 2018, where participants start and finish at Darley Memorial Hall in Nidderdale, with a circular route which passes through Brimham Rocks, Ripley Castle and an abundance of stunning fields.
Registration for the 100k London to Brighton is currently open with a fee of £50 for individual and team entrants, and £100 for relay teams. There is a minimum sponsorship pledge of £300 for individuals, £1,250 for teams and £500 for teams. The all-inclusive entrance fee includes lunch, dinner and breakfast at numerous rest stops, snacks and refreshments along the route and a free event t-shirt.
Registration for the 100k Yorkshire is also open with a fee of £40 for individual and team entrants, and £90 for relay teams. There is a minimum sponsorship pledge of £300 for individuals, £1,250 for teams and £500 for teams. The all-inclusive entrance fee includes lunch, dinner and breakfast at numerous rest stops, snacks and refreshments along the route and a free event t-shirt.
To support Stacey as he takes on the 100k for Blind Veterans UK, please visit: justgiving.com/fundraising/perse200.
To sign up for the Blind Veterans UK 100k, please visit blindveterans.org.uk/100k.
For all media enquiries please contact: Felix Arbenz-Caines, PR Assistant, Blind Veterans UK, 12 – 14 Harcourt Street, London W1H 4HD, E: Felix.Arbenz-Caines@blindveterans.org.uk, T: 020 7616 7941
Notes to Editor
Blind Veterans UK
Blind Veterans UK is a national charity that believes that no-one who has served our country should have to battle blindness alone. Founded in 1915, the charity provides blind and vision impaired ex-Service men and women with lifelong support including welfare support, rehabilitation, training, residential and respite care.