Tameside blind veteran running one million metres to raise money for charity that supports him

A blind veteran from Tameside in Greater Manchester has decided to complete one hundred 10k runs to raise money for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

Steven Dixon, 42 and from Ashton-Under-Lyne, started the challenge in January and plans to complete the one hundred 10k runs by June. He says:

“I average about three to four 10ks a week. I got into running about two years ago as a way of getting back into fitness. The charity really helped with this as I started to go to the fitness weeks available at their training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton”.

Steven joined the Infantry in 1996. He was in the 1st Battalion Kings Regiment, serving in Cyprus, Northern Ireland and Kuwait, before being discharged in 2001. He lost his sight after leaving the Army when he developed amblyopia in his right eye. Fortunately, Steven found Blind Veterans UK and started to receive support from the charity in February 2019. He says:

“The charity has helped me a lot and it’s great to be able to do something like this as a way of giving back”.

Steven was due to run the Manchester 10k last year, but this was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He says:

“It was disappointing when the challenge was cancelled but me and my sister decided to do our own 10k instead and we raised £340 for the charity! I’m hoping to do the Brighton half marathon in June, so this challenge has given me something to do in the lead up to it”.

As well as fitness, Steven has been reintroduced to many hobbies since losing his sight with the help of the charity. At the beginning of last year, Steven went to Canazei in the Italian Dolomites along with 22 other blind veterans as part of the charity’s annual ski trip. He says:

“Unfortunately everything I had booked to go in the last year has been cancelled because of the virus. With so many things cancelling, this challenge has been consistent and given me something to focus my time on. So far I have completed 22 of the runs and I’m on track to finish by June!”

If you would like to support Steven as he takes part in this challenge, you can visit his fundraising page here: Fundraiser by Steven Dixon : 100 10k Runs for Blind Veterans UK (gofundme.com)

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 thus being advised by the Government to self-isolate. The National Support Service will help blind veterans through this period of social isolation.

Nicky Shaw, Blind Veterans UK Director of Operations said:

“Living in isolation, blind veterans need our help right now with daily tasks, such as the shopping, and constant emotional support through this difficult time. So we are temporarily changing our service and mobilising our staff to provide practical, essential support to help the most vulnerable.

“There is so much that we can and must do to support blind veterans to help them maintain physical and emotional wellbeing, and to feel safe, reassured and cared for during this crisis.”

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.

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