A Senior enabler from Exeter is preparing to climb Everest Base Camp with a blind colleague, with part of the money raised going to Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Steve Parfit, 45 and from Exminster, will be attempting the 17,600ft climb on February 1, with the entire trek expected to take 17 days. He says: “To be honest I’m not really sure why I signed up to it! I am excited, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty nervous too!”
Steve and his friend, Stuart, who is completely blind, both work at The WESC Foundation, a specialist centre for young people and adults with vision-impairment in Exeter.
Steve explains: “Stuart’s got an incredibly infectious go get ‘em attitude, so once he’d heard of another blind chap who’d climbed all the way to the top of Mt. Everest, there was no stopping him.
“When he initially suggested it to me I told him where he could get off! Eventually we started looking at Base Camp as an option; admittedly more of a trek than a climb but still a brutal test against the elements.”
Steve is himself aware of the work that Blind Veterans UK does in providing free, lifelong support to veterans with sight loss. He explains: “My father, Gerald, began receiving the support of Blind Veterans UK in 2010. He Served in the Second World War and began losing his sight in the 1980s. They’re very good with him and provide him with an awful lot of support.
“In 2015 he was invited to their Buckingham Palace Garden Party with my mother, it was an incredible experience for them.”
For Steve and Stuart, it’s a now just case of getting the miles in and raising as much money as they can. He explains: “It’s an enormous challenge so we need to make sure we train as much as possible. We’ll be going on lots of walks to places like Dartmouth which will help me get used to guiding Stuart. Unfortunately my wife won’t let me jet off anywhere too exotic!
“As far as fundraising goes it’s early days. We’re currently looking into a few different fundraising ideas so there’ll be plenty of opportunities for friends and families to get involved!”
Steve and Stuart will be donating the money they raise to Blind Veteran UK, the WESC Foundation and The Nayamba Trust. You can support them by visiting: virginmoneygiving.com/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=blindclimb18.
Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in the First World War. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning WWII to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.
Blind Veterans UK currently supports over 4,500 veterans, more than ever before in the charity’s history. The charity has set an ambitious target to double the number of veterans receiving its life changing support by 2022.
For more than a century, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision-impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight. Visit blindveterans.org.uk/support to learn more about the charity and how you can support its vital work today.
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.