Blind Navy veteran to swim Channel for national veterans' charity

1 July 2014 14:00

A daredevil Navy veteran is set to complete a relay swim across the English Channel – despite being registered blind.

34-year-old Somerset resident Alan Lock, will swim across the Channel as part of a three-person relay team to raise money for Blind Veterans UK.

This will be Alan's fourth ultra-endurance challenge, having already run a six-day marathon across the Sahara, rowed the Atlantic and skied to the South Pole.

Alan decided to raise money for Blind Veterans UK after benefitting from free and comprehensive support from the charity to live independently with his sight loss.

Despite having completed the Marathon des Sables - often described as the world's toughest marathon - Alan says that the swim is likely to be his biggest challenge yet: "Swimming isn't my natural sport, so this is probably going to be the most difficult event so far.

"With land-based challenges, there are often things you can do if you plan your kit properly which make the event a little easier - but this will just be me against the sea."

Alan served in the Royal Navy between 2002 and 2005, but had to leave due to his rapidly worsening eyesight. He says: "I realised something was wrong with my eyesight during my last posting. It was quite a subtle change to begin with, so I subconsciously pushed it to the back of my mind.

"Over the following few months, though, my sight just fell off a cliff. I saw a few doctors before being diagnosed with a form of macular degeneration.

"I knew that my sight wasn't going to get any better, so I had to leave the Navy. It was absolutely gutting."

Alan started receiving support from Blind Veterans UK in 2005 and continues to receive support from the charity today. He says: "When you lose your sight, the biggest problem you face is normally the mental readjustment you need to make. Knowing that Blind Veterans UK was there to help was a huge part of me getting to where I am now.

"When my sight went, I found it really encouraging to hear about other blind veterans who've gone on to achieve amazing things. Over the last few years, I've been trying to complete challenges which are big enough to sink my teeth into - both for myself and to raise vital funds for Blind Veterans UK."

Following his sight loss, Alan has gone on to work for HSBC and the BT Group, where he is now Head of Strategy. His cross-Channel relay swim will raise money for Blind Veterans UK, as well as Sightsavers, an international charity which works to combat blindness in developing countries, and Blind in Business, which helps blind and partially sighted people into work through specialist training and employment services.

If you would like to sponsor Alan's swim, please visit his just giving page.