My name is Andy, otherwise known as The Lone Walker.
Two years ago, I decided to do something pretty big. I had started a recovery from severe depression lasting 4 years, and spending time in the hills and mountains helped me greatly. In the October of that year, I walked up Ben Nevis in Scotland every day for a whole month. To me, the great outdoors has put me on a road to recovery and saved my life, whilst raising money for the local mountain rescue team. Occasionally, a phrase was used that I knew every stone on every path of that mountain.
I do take my eyesight for granted… the eyes which enable me to head up to the highest of heights without a second thought which got me thinking about the visually impaired. Could I walk up Ben Nevis blindfolded and how hard can it be? I began fundraising for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (UK) and as it turns out – walking up Ben Nevis is exceptionally hard this way, but the experience helped me to understand the challenge and how guide dogs really do help the visually impaired.
Two friends escorted me to the summit, alongside Oonie, a beautiful black Labrador. She didn’t quite cut the grade to become a working guide dog but she was amazing and really should be awarded the credit for the day. My friend and his parents have always helped train guide dogs throughout their lives and a grand day was had by all.
Two days later, I was travelling on a train back to Scotland from an overnight trip in England minding my own business when a chap and his guide dog sat opposite me at the table. How ironic that two days ago I was on Ben Nevis blindfolded for this very cause. Conversation was made not long into the journey. Colin, a lovely fella, unfortunately has Usher syndrome. I was vaguely aware this was sight loss combined with deafness but we chatted for a while and he helped me to understand more about this. As we neared our destination, Colin mentioned an event in the English Lake District for a new charity CUREUsher and asked if i would be interested in supporting them. An offer I couldn’t refuse.
A friendship was born and we stayed in touch. This coming Saturday, I couldn’t be more proud to support those living with Usher syndrome and will climb Scafell Pike blindfolded with special Retinitis Pigmentosa (tunnel vision) glasses AND ear plugs to limit my hearing with a dedicated bunch fundraising for CUREUsher.