Nottinghamshire man who suffers debilitating back pain challenges himself to run first ever marathon to raise money for Blind Veterans UK   

A man from Nottinghamshire is running his first ever marathon at the age of 52, despite suffering from debilitating back pain, to raise money for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

Simon Wills, from West Bridgford, will be taking on the 26.2-mile London Marathon on 2 October.

He said:

“The London Marathon is one of the most well-known running challenges in the world. Not only will completing this challenge hopefully make a difference to the lives of blind veterans, but it will also be a significant personal milestone. 

“I’ve experienced horrific back problems and pain in the past and at times this has made it difficult for me to walk let alone ever imagine taking on a marathon. 

“Despite operations in 2005 and 2012, I still get a considerable amount of pain but during my training I’ve found that running actually helps and it is great for my mental health too.  

“My biggest concern is pushing my back too far in training and then not being able to join the start line. I don’t want to let anyone down.  

“Blind Veterans UK is a fantastic charity and I have heard that first-hand from those who benefit from their services. These people dedicated their lives to their country, and I now want to show them my support.” 

Simon is employed by Thea Pharmaceuticals, which is dedicated to optometry. They encourage their employees to get involved with supporting Blind Veterans UK and as a company have been supporting the charity since 2015.

Simon said:

“There are actually six of us from the company running the London Marathon to raise money for Blind Veterans UK. The money we all individually raise will then be matched by the organisation. 

“During the Covid pandemic, two veterans who are supported by Blind Veterans UK took part in an online call with the whole company and told us their stories. One enjoyed downhill skiing and the other had rowed across the Atlantic.  

“I was hugely inspired by them and that has spurred me on to take on my own challenge. If these men can face their incredible challenges with the added difficulties that sight-loss brings then I can run a marathon.” 

So far Simon has raised £600 towards his £2,500 target for Blind Veterans UK. If you would like to support him in hitting his goal, please visit his Just Giving page here:

If you are inspired by Simon and would like to take on a challenge for Blind Veterans UK visit the charity’s website:

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

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