Guildford blind veteran to tackle 100k ultra-challenge walk to thank military charity for support
16 February 2016 10:44
A blind veteran from Guildford is set to tackle a 100 kilometre ultra-challenge for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.
Jeff Stockwell, 60, is challenging himself to walk from London to Brighton to thank the military charity for its support and to maintain his fitness after slimming by seven stone last year.
Jeff enlisted in the Army Catering Corps in 1972 and worked as a chef in the officer's mess, serving in Belize, Canada, Cyprus, England, Germany and Northern Ireland. After leaving the Forces in 1986, he worked with terminally-ill children but then, in Christmas 2004, he ended up in intensive care with salmonella.
The illness cost him the sight in one eye, but he was able to carry on driving. He later, lost the central vision in the other eye and was forced to give up driving.
He says, "I lost my car. I had just bought a campervan, I lost that too, and went into a downward spiral, feeling depressed and suicidal."
Jeff started to receive support from Blind Veterans UK in 2015. The charity has provided him with a CCTV magnifier for his art work. He has attended art classes at the Brighton Centre and plans to go on a woodturning course later this year. He says, "The care they've given me is phenomenal. It's brilliant."
While Jeff previously had done a charity walk, he lost his fitness and reached 23 stone after losing his sight. With the support of Blind Veterans UK he decided to maintain his seven stone weight loss by completing the Great South Run - a 10-mile race in Portsmouth - and now plans to tackle the Blind Veterans UK 100k London to Brighton challenge
He says, "Part of what Blind Veterans UK is about is challenging yourself to experience life beyond sight loss. I wanted to get myself as fit as I used to be, so I decided to motivate myself by walking 100 kilometres."
Jeff is already training for his 100k ultra-challenge with daily gym visits and 10km walks once or twice weekly with his guide dog, Quinta. He will also be attending a training week at the Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre to prepare for the event.
He says, "My training so far has been building up the muscles on my legs so that I can be pain-free for walking. When I walk in my area, I take Quinta with me, and I plan to take her walking at the Brighton centre."
Registration for the 100k, which will kick off in Fulham on Saturday 2nd July, is currently open with a registration fee of £62.50 for the 100km. For those not wanting to walk the full distance there is also a relay option available for teams of four walking 25k each. Teams taking part in the relay have a registration fee of £110. The all-inclusive entrance fee for participants includes lunch, dinner and breakfast at three rest stops, snacks and refreshments along the route and a free event t-shirt.
The London to Brighton 100k challenge is Blind Veterans UK's biggest annual fundraiser and takes participants from a starting point in south west London, along the banks of the Thames, through countryside paths in Surrey, Sussex and the North and South Downs to the charity's centre in Ovingdean, Brighton.
To sign up for the Blind Veterans UK 100k challenge, please visit www.blindveterans.org.uk/100k.