Brighton blind veteran completes half marathon
A Rottingdean man completed a half marathon alongside eight fellow blind veterans who travelled from across the country for the event.
The veterans completed the Brighton Half Marathon in February which was particularly challenging due to high winds.
Charlie Parkinson, 43, from Rottingdean, was one of the veterans taking part and completed the race in two hours and fifteen minutes.
Being attached to his guide runner by a piece of stretchy elastic meant that Charlie could follow closely behind.
“In normal circumstances I wouldn’t have been particularly happy with my time,” Charlie said, “but considering the wind was absolutely howling and I did little to no training, I’ll take it.”
Charlie spent four years with the Army with tours in Cyprus and Jordan and was diagnosed with glaucoma eight years after leaving.
This left him with no sight in his left eye and severely reduced vision in his right eye and said that the Blind Veterans UK charity helped him ‘get back on his feet’.
“When I first lost my sight I thought my life was over,” he said.
“I’d always been very sporty so I was severely depressed thinking that I’d never be able to do boxing or running again.
“Blind Veterans UK literally saved me. They gave me the skills and the confidence to get back out there and partaking in my sporting endeavours again.
“They gave me my confidence and self-respect back. I can’t thank them enough.”
Blind Veterans UK helps vision-impaired ex-service men and women after sight loss.
Since 1915, the charity has provided rehabilitation, training, practical advice and emotional support to tens of thousands of blind veterans.
Stacey Jones, 42, from Peacehaven, acted as a guide for one of the veterans.
“My runner chose not to be physically attached so I took on the role of being his eyes during the race,” she said.
“I stayed at his pace and was in constant communication about what was happening around us at all times.
“I’m feeling really pleased for him and happy that I was able to help him achieve something that he’s been aiming for.”
Blind Veterans UK has a dedicated community team in Sussex who provide support including training, equipment and social events.
More information about Blind Veterans UK, and its dedicated Sussex community team, can be found at the charity’s website.