Paralympian star to walk 100k for Blind Veterans UK

13 March 2014 15:00

England's greatest goalscorer and 'strictly come dancing' star David Clarke will tackle Blind Veterans UK's 100k walk this June.

With 128 goals to his name, he has been described by the FA as "England's greatest goalscorer" and is set to hit our TV screens later this month as part of a special edition of Strictly Come Dancing for Sports Relief!

Now, blind footballer David Clarke is undertaking a new challenge: to walk our 100k summer challenge in under 24 hours to raise funds for Blind Veterans UK.

Having lost his sight as a child through congenital glaucoma, David went on to become Britain's most capped blind footballer, representing Great Britain in 144 matches, including five World Cups, six European Championships and three Paralympic Games.

He was awarded the FA Lifetime Award last year and will take part in a one-off edition of Strictly Come Dancing alongside fellow Paralympians Hannah Cockcroft, Martine Wight and Nathan Stephens on Friday 21st March.

David will be taking part in our 100k London-to-Brighton Walk alongside blind ex-Service personnel and other challenge participants. 

He says: "I have a huge amount of respect for Armed Forces personnel, the incredible work they do and the sacrifices they make in the service of our country. I'm proud to be supporting the work Blind Veterans UK does in ensuring that no veteran has to deal with sight loss alone.

"Like those supported by Blind Veterans UK, I understand the impact that a visual impairment can have on a person's life - and the drive to make sure that blindness doesn't stop you from aspiring to achieve great things and succeeding at what you love.

"I'd call on anyone looking to challenge themselves and raise money for this great cause to join me on Blind Veterans UK's 100k London to Brighton Walk from Saturday 21st to Sunday 22nd June."

This week, David met with blind veteran Simon Brown, who lost his sight in action eight years ago. During his service with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Iraq, Simon was shot in the head while rescuing six of his colleagues whose vehicle had broken down.

Though he survived, the damage to his face was catastrophic, causing him to lose his left eye and leaving him with only 20 per cent peripheral vision in his right eye. Simon was supported through his sight loss by Blind Veterans UK, where he received support and training to help him recover his independence.

Today Simon works for Blind Veterans UK as a Communications and Engagement Officer, responsible for recruiting more veterans we can help with free specialist support.

David says: "It was great to meet Simon and find out for myself about the great work Blind Veterans UK does for ex-Service men and women with sight loss. Though Simon and I lost our sight in very different circumstances, we've both shown that sight loss doesn't spell the end and that you can still achieve what you set out to do."

David is now training for the 100k Walk, which will kick off in Putney on Saturday 21st June and concludes on Sunday 22nd June. Places are still available with a registration fee of £99 per participant or £120 for a two- or four-man relay team. The all inclusive entrance fee for participants includes hot food at three rest stops, snacks and refreshments along the route, support from first aiders en route and a free event t-shirt.

The event is Blind Veterans UK's biggest annual fundraiser and takes walkers from a starting point in south London, along the banks of the Thames, through countryside paths in Surrey, Sussex and the North and South Downs to finish at our Brighton centre.