RNIB turns 150 this year and to celebrate we want to hear your stories. Bill Foster and Hannah Powell tell us their stories of life-changing moments and experiences.
Hannah lost her sight on a holiday in Greece after drinking vodka laced with ethanol, causing sight loss and kidney failure.
“I went to a party with my friends and spent the following day by the pool. After a long night’s sleep I woke up and asked my friend to put the lights on. When she said they were already on I thought she was joking as it was pitch black”, 20-year-old Hannah says.
“Just like that my life changed completely. It was four weeks before I regained some vision and even then I could only see 10 per cent. I also had kidney failure and was constantly at the hospital.”
For Hannah, it’s been a very challenging time, but she is now back on her feet again and can do almost everything she used to.
“If it wasn’t for Angela, an RNIB Sight Loss Adviser, I don’t know where I’d be. She offered supported to me and my family, assisted with appointments and helped me get back to work.
“I now want to work with people with sight loss and have done some volunteering with RNIB. Although I still have bad days I’ve found a new purpose in life, to help others like me.
Bill Foster from Northern Ireland has a passion for sailing and his recent adventure has challenged perceptions of what people with sight loss can do.
“I have a hereditary eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa. Not only is sailing one of my hobbies, it’s unlocked a confidence that’s given me the courage to go out and try other things.
“Sailing is brilliant because it’s very tactile, you constantly have to be holding, pulling or pushing something. If you do it often enough, these moves become second nature.
“In May I sailed on one of the tall ships out of Southampton, the Lord Nelson. We simulated the firstvoyages of the Titanic; it was a very special trip.
“As a challenge, when the Lord Nelson was last in Belfast, I climbed to the top of its mast. I was 140 feet up but because I can’t see, I had no idea how high up I was.
“It just goes to show you can do almost anything you want to do, as long as you open your mind up to it.”
If you'd like to share your story, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our 150 stories page to find out more.