A blind veteran from Hampshire will be walking 270 miles virtually to raise funds for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Ron Russell, 80 and from Waterlooville, will be completing the challenge from Monday 12 to Monday 19 July. Ron says:
“My local gym has allowed me to use one of their treadmills for free so that I can do the challenge. I have been supported by the charity since 2016, so I decided to do something to pay the charity back for all that they have done for me. I walk everyday anyway so I thought it would be a good idea to do a walking challenge from their training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton to their one in Llandudno. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I will be doing this virtually”.
Ron, who has been diagnosed with glaucoma, joined the Royal Engineers in 1957 and served for 2-and-a-half years until 1960 when he was discharged as a Sapper. He says:
“I left school at 16 and did a carpentry apprenticeship. My dad was in the Army, so I decided to follow in his footsteps. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the Army, but I was encouraged to join the Royal Engineers so that I could learn a trade”.
Ron has fundraised within his local community a lot over the years but has never completed a walking challenge before. He says:
“I have done lots of fundraising from car boot sales for the local school to raising money through indoor horse racing! The skills I learnt from my carpentry apprenticeship have allowed me to create wooden horses and racetracks, so I have arranged many race nights with all proceeds going to the community and local charity”.
In order to track the 270-mile challenge, Blind Veterans UK have provided Ron with a pedometer. Ron says:
“This will allow me to track my distance as well as my steps. The charity has been very good to me over the years and have really looked after me. They have provided me with lots of equipment such as a white cane and a Synaptic mobile phone. I want to raise as much funds as I can to say thank you”.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic Blind Veterans UK has adapted its service to support its 5,000 beneficiaries, 90% of whom are over 70 and were advised by the Government to self-isolate. The National Support Service has helped blind veterans through this period of social isolation.
You can keep updated on Blind Veterans UK’s response to Covid-19 at blindveterans.org.uk/coronavirus where you can also find out more about supporting the charity to make this new service possible.