Wiltshire blind veteran and her family taking on a 200km challenge in their home to raise money for charity that supports them

A family from Wiltshire are taking part in the At Home Winter Wonderwheels challenge by completing a total distance of 200km over four weeks in order to raise money for Blind Veterans UK.

Blind veteran and Invictus Games medallist, Kelly Ganfield, 40 and from Trowbridge, along with her wife Sarah and daughter Bethany, have been completing the challenge together in their home during the lockdown period.

They are completing the 200km distance through different activities which they can do together as a family, such as walking and cycling. Sarah says:

“We did a similar challenge in the summer and we really enjoyed it. We wanted to challenge ourselves again during lockdown and raise as much money as possible for Blind Veterans UK as they have gone above and beyond for us and we can never forget all that they have done”.

Kelly joined the Army in 1998 and worked for over 3 years on the staff of the second-in-command of a Battalion serving in Omagh, Northern Ireland. Kelly has a rare blood condition called antiphospholipid syndrome which caused two strokes, epilepsy and sight loss. Fortunately, she found Blind Veterans UK and started receiving support from the charity in 2005. Kelly competed in the 2017 & 2018 Invictus Games for Team GB.

Kelly says:

“I was medically discharged in 2005. Since I lost my Army career, Blind Veterans UK have been there since day one. They’ve been there when I’ve needed them the most. I’ve met so many inspirational members since joining the charity”.

Their five-year-old daughter Bethany was born five weeks premature and experienced a substantial bleed on the brain that has caused cerebral palsy right side hemiplegia. Sarah says:

“We did not know whether Bethany would be able to walk. Bethany is amazing and so positive. She walks, runs and rides a trike and her motto is ‘there is no such word as can’t’”.

The At Home Winter Wonderwheels challenge is one of the four annual events which form the Superhero Series. This Series is the UK’s only disability sports series and encourages people to complete a month-long challenge from their home, either on their own or with others.

Sarah says:

“It been great to do this as a family. We’ve incorporated the challenge into our everyday life by including the distance walked to school and Kelly and I have been using the equipment in our home gym which Blind Veterans UK has given us. Kelly is the best role model for Bethany, they encourage each other”. 

The family are regular visitors to the charity’s training and rehabilitation centre in Llandudno but unfortunately have not been able to visit since the beginning of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kelly says: “Bethany calls it her holiday home! Visiting there has helped us unwind as a family, whilst feeling fully supported and safe. We wanted to do this challenge to raise money but also to give the charity recognition for everything it does and for the families like ours that it helps”.

So far Kelly, Sarah and Bethany have raised over £110. If you would like to help them raise even more money, their fundraising page is here: justgiving.com/sarah-ganfield

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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