Vision-impaired man and his Navy friend take on 100k for military charity

18 January 2016 15:44

A vision-impaired man from Wales and his friend from Hampshire are set to tackle a 100 km walk this July for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women.

Gareth Davies, 41 and from Cardiff, was inspired to take on the challenge after meeting a veteran supported by the charity. Now he has rallied his best friend Neil Cassidy, who he has known since primary school and is currently serving in the Navy, to join him on the Blind Veterans UK 100k London to Brighton walk.

Neil Cassidy, 41 and from Denmead, suggested the walk to his team and now a group of seven will be taking on the 100k challenge.

Gareth suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary condition which slowly causes sight loss. He is registered blind and only has 10% vision left which is reducing still. Gareth has a guide dog and went for training in Wales for three weeks which is where he met a veteran supported by Blind Veterans UK.

Gareth says: "The veteran I spoke to is heavily involved with the charity and is now able to do all kinds of challenges himself because of the support he's received from Blind Veterans UK. What struck me is how the charity gives ex-Service men and women independence and confidence which enables them to move forward in their lives despite their disability."

Gareth already does a lot of mountain climbing and walking and felt it was a logical step to do the 100k London to Brighton to support Blind Veterans UK.

Gareth says: "It's great to be part of a team of seven, especially as I'm night blind and will find it particularly challenging to complete the night section. It'll be a real team effort to get me through that."

Neil says: "Gareth has taken up quite a few challenges recently and when he asked me about the Blind Veterans UK 100k I was happy to get involved.

"I'm excited to be doing this challenge with my friend and focus on getting more active."

Neil is serving in the Royal Navy and is a Warrant Officer class I, which is the highest rank for a non-commissioned officer. Therefore, he feels strongly about raising money for a military charity.

Neil says: "I was aware of Blind Veterans UK but under their previous name St Dunstan's. It is great to be able to support ex-members of the Armed Forces by challenging myself."

Gareth would like to finish the Blind Veterans UK 100k London to Brighton in under 24 hours but Neil feels differently. He says: "I definitely don't have a time in mind, I'd just like to finish it on my feet!"

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 support Gareth, Neil and the team as they take on the 100k for Blind Veterans UK, please visit

To sign up for the Blind Veterans UK 100k, please visit