Woman who woke up to sudden sight loss to take on Dundee Kiltwalk for RNIB
Elizabeth O’Hara is urging local people in Dundee to join her for the city's forthcoming Kiltwalk to raise money for RNIB to support its Connect Community, which brings together blind and partially sighted people.
RNIB’s Connect community, which is free to join, enables people with sight loss to meet others with similar experiences and share information, advice and guidance, both face-to-face and online. The growth of the community has been supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery which has already donated a major award of £1m towards developing the community.
Elizabeth wants to connect with people who will join her on the Dundee Kiltwalk on Sunday, August 18th, and the Edinburgh one on September 16th. And she wants to connect with others across Scotland who, like herself, are blind or partially sighted.
There are around 170,000 people living in Scotland with significant sight loss, two million across the UK, so the potential is big.
"Connect is about moving away from people being just passive recipients of services," says Elizabeth (50) from Glasgow. "It's about encouraging and supporting them to be more actively involved. To reach out to others with the same interests and concerns.
"RNIB helped me a great deal when I lost my sight. I literally woke up blind one morning due to diabetic retinopathy and other health conditions. Right now, I can't see anything with my left eye and have a little residual vision in my right.
"RNIB's four-week 'Looking Forward' course helped me come to terms with my sight loss. It was my first time being around others with sight loss and it assisted my development and helped me live easier with sight loss. It was because of this that I went on to become a volunteer for RNIB."
Boosted by the award from the People’s Postcode Lottery. RNIB plans to use the money to mobilise its growing Connect community and change public attitudes towards sight loss. The money will also allow it to invest in its award-winning Connect Radio station, based in Partick and staffed mainly by people with sight loss.
“I would like to thank the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery for raising money for RNIB for help to grow and develop the Connect community," said Elizabeth. ”It's a great opportunity for RNIB to reach out even further through Connect and help more people meet others who share the same some of the same problems as them."
Elizabeth is concentrating her own efforts on the four Scottish Kiltwalks this year (she's already done the Glasgow and Aberdeen ones). Her aim is to raise money for RNIB to produce more Talking Books for readers with sight loss. An avid reader herself, she appreciates just how important books are to people who can't read normal print.
"I love reading," she says, "and I couldn't imagine not being able to read the same books that everyone else does. That's why I decided to do all four Kiltwalks to raise funds for RNIB this year."
I read a lot of crime novels. Mark Gimenez, Martina Cole, Jesse Keane, Karin Slaughter, Kimberley Chambers, James Patterson, Harlan Conan are among the authors I like. I also like a book that can make me laugh and Marian Keyes never fails. Also Helen Fielding."
The four annual Kiltwalks in Scotland are sponsored walks which allow anyone to raise funds for the causes they care about, which receive a 40 per cent top-up from Sir Tom Hunter’s Foundation. Those taking part can choose to walk six, 15 or 23 miles on the day.
Elizabeth and those joining her for the Dundee walk on Sunday, August 18th, will do six miles - 'the Wee Wander'.
"It would be great if other people could join me in Dundee and Edinburgh. Individuals, friends and families are very welcome to join and help raise money for Talking Books. The more the merrier! I would love to walk with as many people as possible!"
- Registration to join Elizabeth's Dundee Kiltwalk team has now closed.