A blind veteran from Shropshire is taking part in this year’s London Marathon to show his support for the military charity that has been by his side throughout his sight-loss journey.
Alan Lock, who is 43 and from Shrewsbury, has been supported by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, since he was 24 and lost his sight.
On 23 April, Alan will be taking on the prestigious 26.2-mile event for the 13th time.
“I’m no stranger to running. In May last year I challenged myself to complete a 40-mile ultra-run to mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War and to help Blind Veterans UK support Falklands veterans who lost their sight, either during or after the conflict.
“I love running and I’ve been able to continue to run because of the support I’ve received from Blind Veterans UK.”
Alan joined the Navy in 2002 but just three years later, when he was 24, a rare genetic condition, similar to macular degeneration, took his sight and forced him to retire from the Armed Forces.
“I felt so lonely and was full of worry and uncertainty for my future. I’d been committed to a career with the Royal Navy; it’s what I expected to do for life but that was snatched away from me along with my eyesight.
“It sounds so simplistic but not being able to see properly has a massive impact on your life; I find it difficult to read, I can’t drive, and I can’t see people’s faces properly including my own daughter’s, which is heart-breaking.
“I joined Blind Veterans UK in 2005; the support, rehabilitation, and equipment the charity has given me has enabled me to live independently, pursue the sports that I love and re-train for a new career.
“I’ve been able to enjoy running as the charity provided me with a running machine. If I run outside of my home, I need a guide but the running machine gives me the independence to run alone and unaided.
“I’ve had to do much more of my training for this marathon inside on my running machine than I’d planned as my original guide was injured.
“I was originally aiming for three hours and 15 minutes, but my training has been disrupted so I’ll be happy if I get under three hour 30 minutes on this occasion.
“I can’t thank Blind Veterans UK enough for all the support I have been given. It’s a special charity and has been by my side throughout my journey, giving me the confidence to see beyond the limits of sight-loss and to achieve things I thought would be impossible.
“I’m proud to run for Blind Veterans UK and the London Marathon is a terrific opportunity to remind myself I can still take on big challenges and endeavours in spite of my sight loss.”
If you would like to run in support of Blind Veterans UK in the 2024 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