Regular readers (and there are some, I’m both pleased and surprised to tell) will know that in 2009 I channelled the effort I put in to three local sportive rides to raise much needed funds for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), right here in Northern Ireland. Today I paid a visit to the RNIB NI headquarters in Belfast city centre to present the cheque.
I had entered the 50Km Craigavon Cycle Trail in May, the 100Km Bangor Coastal Challenge in June and the 150Km Lap The Lough in August, for a total of 200Km of mostly rain soaked cycling. Well, it is Northern Ireland after all. Donations were accepted through a website I created at sponsorjohn.com and thanks to the generous donations of local (and not so local) friends, colleagues and businesses a very respectable £650 was raised!
Today I met with Margaret Fusco, the regional manager for RNIB in Northern Ireland. Over a coffee we chatted for a while about the work the charity does in the province and some of the issues faced by blind and partially sighted people on a day to day basis. The big push at present is the Right To Read campaign, which aims to ensure that everyone has access to the “same book, the same day, same price”, but we also talked about some of the upcoming training and awareness campaigns the charity is planning. You might be surprised to learn just how much work goes on behind the scenes to support registered blind people and I’m happy to have been able to help.
We snapped a few photographs and, to my surprise, I was presented with a certificate to commemorate the successful completion of the cycling challenges I’d set myself! I’d been expecting to just drop in for five minutes and hand over the cheque, but ended up staying for three quarters of an hour; the warm welcome and surprise gift were a very pleasant surprise.
The £650 raised will help keep the Eye Care Liaison Officer (ECLO) service operated by RNIB NI operational through an upcoming difficult transition period. ECLOs provide vital non-medical support to those unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with serious sight loss, helping them and their families adapt to their new circumstances, retain confidence and regain their independence. It’s great to have been able to help keep this important service running, and I even had some fun in the process!