Shop RNIB Donate now

Omagh woman makes mountain effort across the Mournes for Ben and RNIB

On Saturday 8 June, Julie Maclaine (32) from Omagh will be embarking on a 26 mile journey of love and support for her cousin Ben Wishart, who is 11 years old and faces the unique challenges of both autism and visual impairment.

Ben Wishart and sister Anne out exploring in the woods.

Julie hopes to raise vital funds both to support Ben’s family and sight loss support charity RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People, Northern Ireland), while raising awareness of living with both of these conditions.

Julie says, “Ben’s journey with autism and visual impairment has taught me the power of compassion and resilience. Ben is non-verbal and has Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) which affects his vision and movement. Despite the obstacles he faces, Ben radiates joy and touches the hearts of everyone he meets. However, navigating the world without the ability to communicate his needs presents its own set of challenges. That’s why I am committed to ensuring Ben receives the care and resources he deserves to live a fulfilling life.”

“On Saturday, 8 June, I will be walking the Mourne Way, a scenic trail spanning 26 miles (41km) from Newcastle to Rostrevor. The walk covers an array of different terrain, from forest track, to open mountain, spectacular views, steep mountain sides, rivers, forests and everything in between that the Mourne’s has to offer!”

“This endeavour is not only a physical challenge for me but also an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for Ben’s growing needs, as well as for the remarkable charity RNIB, which provides invaluable support to Ben and his family. I will be splitting the money 80% to Ben for specific resources and 20% to RNIB.”

Ben’s dad John said, “With Adele having to give up her job as a teacher to look after Ben's growing needs, Julie's amazing support for us has deeply touched us and aims to help aid some of Ben's issues.

“The money would give us the chance to: buy the specialist clothing and equipment we need to make things more manageable and practical, specifically around toileting, which is a major challenge; other customised special needs materials that will support his physical and developmental growth as he enters his teenage years, such as safe sensory-seeking stimulus gadgets; adapted car seats, in particular, modified 5-point harness straps to ensure Ben's safety while travelling, and equipment to support Ben to continue to explore the outdoors.”

Julie added, “Your support means the world to me and Ben. Thank you for joining us on this journey.”

If you would like to support Julie and Ben, you can give online by searching ‘Trek4Ben’ on

For further information on RNIB’s support services for families of children with visual impairment visit or call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999.