Doting daughter to guide blind veteran father on Great North Run challenge

1 July 2014 14:09

A blind ex- soldier and his daughter are set to tackle a half marathon together to raise funds for military charity Blind Veterans UK, who has supported their family.

Charlie and Kirsty Eastwood will run the Great North Run on Sunday 7 September 2014. The race will start in Newcastle and finish in South Shields.

Charlie, 54 and from Hartlepool, has wanted to run the Great North Run for four years. Finally this year he was able to secure a place. However, to be able to run Charlie needed a guide. Daughter Kirsty stepped straight up and started training right away to be able to help guide her father around the 13 mile route.

Kirsty, 26 also from Hartlepool, says: "When he asked me to be his guide I didn't have to think twice about it. Especially as he's been so keen on participating in the Great North Run. The idea during the run is that we each hold the end of a band which is how I'll guide him."

Charlie says: "I'm very excited to participate in the Great North Run with my daughter for such a good cause."

Charlie joined the Army in 1976, where he was part of the Royal Signals and served in Germany, Cyprus and the Caribbean. Charlie left the Army in 1999 after he started to lose his sight due to retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that slowly causes blindness. In 2007 Charlie started to receive support from Blind Veterans UK.

Kirsty says: "When my father started to lose his sight, he lost the Army, he lost his driver's license and he lost his independence. Blind Veterans UK gave him his sense of purpose and confidence back."

Charlie says: "Blind Veterans UK have done a lot for me. Before I started to receive their support I was pretty much vegetating; not living or enjoying life at all. But, after I visited the charity's training centre they told me what was available and I started challenging myself. I started small at first but as I became more confident I started taking on bigger challenges such as the London Triathlon."

Charlie and Kirsty both have been training hard for the Great North Run with each going out for a run three times a week and training together as well.

If you secured a place through the ballot you can still run for Blind Veterans UK and be part of Great North Run team. All runners receive a free exclusive Blind Veterans UK running vest to wear on the day.

To sponsor Charlie and Kirsty Eastwood as they tackle the Great North Run in aid of Blind Veterans UK, please visit their Just Giving page.