Inspiring walk for RP Blindness
If you love to walk, enjoy the outdoors and suddenly find you have a condition that will make you blind, what would you do? Well, you could slow down and take it easy or you might instead decide, like Robin and Julie, to go walking and visiting as many places as you want, while you can see them. The intrepid couple will also be raising money for a great charity at the same time.
A couple who set themselves a challenge to walk from their island home on the Isle of Wight across the UK and Ireland and on across Europe successfully arrived in Mumbles on the last weekend of July. Robin Frape and his partner, Julie Binnington planned their worldwide walk spurred on by the fact Robin has been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).
Seeing things differently
It’s an inherited eye disease that affects one in 3000 people. The couple may have set themselves the task of an extremely long walk but it’s also a way of seeing things differently for Robin.
James Young, Swansea poet and regular diary contributor to Swansea News Network stopped to chat to them both whilst they were walking along Mumbles seafront over the weekend. He was struck by the amount of luggage they were carrying on a rather nifty trolley. When he asked them about it, Robin and Julie enthusiastically talked about their plans. It turned out it was no wonder they needed those trolleys; they had already walked a long distance and planned to walk across Britain and beyond. The couple are both self-funding their travels but are hoping to raise much-needed cash for the charity RP Fighting Blindness.
Walk on Annapurna, along Mumbles seafront and beyond…
The couple had walked to Mumbles from their home on the Isle of Wight (via the ferry from Yarmouth) through the New Forest and into Wales. Walking onward from Wales, they plan to head up to Scotland, catch a ferry to Ireland, then walk southwards to the south of Ireland. From there they plan to cross the water to walk through as much of Europe as they can.
If you would like to donate to their chosen charity check out this website: Julie Binnington’s fundraising site for RP Fighting Blindness
I will get to a point where I’m not going to be able to see properly, everything will just be sort of foggy and distorted to the point that functioning properly is really not going to be a possibility… but it’s going to be a great opportunity to basically walk and see everything at eye level and do it slowly and just take everything in while we can.”
Robin who gave up his job as a hydrographic surveyor is no stranger to long walks. His work involved mapping out the rise and fall of the ocean floor so it perhaps made sense when he recently took up the challenge to climb Annapurna in Nepal.
Many shades of blindness
Julie says there are some misconceptions about blindness:
“You don’t look blind” is something I still hear from people far too often. Lots of people all over the world still believe this misconception that to be visually impaired you tend to look a certain way. They associate a certain look, an unresponsive stare, a vacant expression. But there are many shades of blindness, it’s never all or nothing and it’s impossible to judge how someone sees by just the way they look back. Even today adverts for sight loss charities and guide dogs always seem to use people with no vision who’s eyes have “that look”.
RP Fighting Blindness is a registered charity which specialises in funding pioneering research into the causes of retinitis pigmentosa and inherited retinal dystrophies which cause progressive sight loss. They also offer dedicated support to the thousands of people in the UK affected by this range of conditions.
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