I have actively volunteered with and supported RNIB and Guide Dogs since 1989. I have sponsored Guide Dogs by direct debit through my bank since 2015. And I make no secret of how much I love dogs and how important I think the Guide Dogs programme is to those who use and need it.
In January 2016 both my eyes went red. I looked like a Sith Lord, wore sunglasses every day and was terrified that I was going to lose my sight. It took months before the redness disappeared and 18 months for the lesions to heal. The depression and anxiety was extreme. I was lucky. With the help of the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and Boots Opticians we caught the problem early and my sight has fully stabilised. It alerted me to the importance of regular sight checks, of not ignoring signs, of getting professional help, not guessing with self medication or Google and of taking care of myself as best as I can.
I have six sisters and one brother and - counting my Mum (and Dad (RIP)) eight out of the ten of us wear glasses. Almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss that has a significant impact on their daily lives. Of those, around 180,000 rarely leave their homes alone and lead lonely, isolated lives. Guide Dogs works for a world where people with sight loss are never left out of life, for a world where being blind or partially sighted is not what defines you. A world with enough support to make the challenges of sight loss no barrier to fulfilling hopes and dreams.
It costs around £56,000 to raise, train and care for a Guide Dog through its entire life. 100 lengths and £1000 (with your help I can hopefully raise more than my target) probably only covers dog food and vet's fees for a year but it's a start. I will be doing the swim in May - am in training now and will update you as to my progress as I go along.
Enough waffle from me. I'm off to the pool. Wish me luck and give what you can afford. Every penny counts.