Hampshire blind veteran running the London Marathon less than a month after taking on the London to Brighton Cycle Ride 

A blind veteran from Aldershot in Hampshire is running a marathon for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, less than a month after challenging himself to cycle 55 miles for the charity.

Andy Leitch, 48, is taking part in the London Marathon on 2 October. Just three weeks earlier he spent nearly five hours on a tandem bike with his son completing the London to Brighton Cycle Ride.

Andy said:

“I have been fitting in training for the marathon around the training I was doing on the tandem bike, the cycle ride was a completely new challenge for me.

“Towards the end of the 4 hours and 51 minutes there was a lot of shouting between my son and I, and my son has said “never again!”

“I am, however, no stranger to marathons, this will be my seventh London Marathon. I take on these sporting challenges to raise money and awareness for Blind Veterans UK who gave me back my confidence after losing my sight.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I always start and I always finish the challenges that I set myself. It doesn’t matter if you’re super fit or a plodder like me. It’s about raising awareness, raising funds and having fun along the way.

“It’s incredibly rewarding when I’m running along and people in the crowd are shouting my name, I know at that moment that they are reading my t-shirt and recognising that I am running for Blind Veterans UK. It makes it worthwhile.

“My wife and my children tend to stand around the 13-mile mark and this spurs me on to keep going.”

Andy joined the Army in 1992 and spent 19 years with the Royal Logistics Corps. It was at the age of 37 that retinitis pigmentosa caused a gradual decline in his sight which meant he was forced to retire early from the military.

Andy has reduced peripheral vision and can only see around 30 metres in front of him.

“I’ll have a guide by my side throughout the marathon and I put my complete trust in them to help me safely navigate people, speed bumps, kerbs or raised potholes, the sorts of things that other runners don’t need to think about.”

In 2011 Andy discovered Blind Veterans UK who have been supporting him ever since.

“Blind Veterans UK has invested a lot of time over the years to help me rebuild my life when I’d lost all hope.  

“When I first came to the charity I was feeling sorry for myself, but they made me realise what was possible and gave me the confidence to start doing physical activities again and get back to work. 

“I love to get stuck into these personal challenges to give back to the charity that has supported me so much.” 

So far Andy and his guide Hannah have raised £270 for Blind Veterans UK. If you would like to support them in raising more, please visit their Just Giving page here: justgiving.com/hannah-venables3

If you would like to join Blind Veterans UK for the 2023 London Marathon, visit the event page here: blindveterans.org.uk/London-marathon

Blind Veterans UK supports thousands of blind veterans across the country, but knows there are many thousands more who still need its support to rebuild their lives after sight loss.

If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces, including National Service, and are now struggling with sight loss, then please get in touch. Call 0800 389 7979 or visit blindveterans.org.uk/support 

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