Preston blind veteran to tackle 100km walk in aid of Blind Veterans UK
6 January 2014 10:30
Blind veteran Maria Pikulski prepares to tackle a 100km walk from London to Brighton in support of Blind Veterans UK this June.
Blind veteran Maria Piksulski from Preston, Lancashire who lost her sight as a result of Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, plans to tackle a strenuous 100K London to Brighton walk in aid of Blind Veterans UK, the charity that has provided her with life-transforming services.
Maria Pikulski, 52, said that her life fell apart when she began to go blind and eventually had to give up her much loved job as a nurse. Through Blind Veterans UK and the extensive support, encouragement and training that she has received, Maria has been able to regain her confidence and live life to the full once more.
The 100K walk, which challenges people to complete in just 24 hours, over the weekend of 21 - 22 June 2014, will not be the first enterprise Maria has attempted since coming to terms with her sight loss.
Maria says: "I've skydived out of an airplane, walked 108 miles along Hadrian's Wall and wing walked. I also became the first female member of Blind Veterans UK to take part in the London Marathon, even though before joining the charity I had never considered being a runner!
"I wanted a new challenge and the 100k is certainly that! I have a great walking partner who will guide me as well as will train with me. Hopefully we will do it and succeed. I am also hoping to promote the fantastic charity.
"I started training properly in January, but I did a lot of walking over the Christmas period. Earlier this year we went walking in France and last year we did a lot of mountain walking Poland which was a real challenge in itself. We will be doing some overnight training as well".
Born in 1961, Maria carried out her training at Guildford and joined the Women's Royal Army Corps in 1980. She was posted to Aldershot and then later Blackdown Barracks with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps where her role was as a supply specialist. Thereafter Maria served with the Territorial Army for 11 years, holding a variety of tasks ranging from stores, clerical, driver and chef with a variety of units in the Preston and Manchester area. After her time with the military, Maria spent time working with the Ministry of Defence and later as a nurse.
Maria lost her sight some time after she had completed her time in service. As a veteran she was able to become a member of Blind Veterans UK. Maria says: "Blind Veterans UK has quite simply saved my life. Before I became a member I had just wanted to give up, but after they took me down to their centre in Brighton for my induction week, my confidence began to build from there."
Through her personal determination, Maria has proved that her disability will not hold her back. She now works as a passionate Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO), working to help others who also suffer from sight problems by offering them detailed knowledge of eye conditions, emotional support and rehabilitation services.
Maria says that she is immensely proud to be supporting Blind Veterans UK, a charity that has given her so much.
She says: "Taking part in the 100K walk is my way of giving something back for all I have got out of being a part of what I feel is the Blind Veterans UK family. They helped me live again and I did not think I would be here today if it was not for them."
Blind Veterans UK still has places for its 100K walk 2014. Taking place over the weekend of Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 June 2014, the cost of a space is £99 per person or £120 per relay team. The charity is also introducing two man relay teams so that for the first time people will be able to take part in pairs and walking 50km of the trek each.
The all-inclusive entrance fee for participants includes hot food at three rest stops, snacks and refreshments along the route and first aiders en route, as well as a free event t-shirt.
To find out more and to sign up for Blind Veterans UK's London to Brighton walk, visit: www.walk100.org.uk/sign-up.