Blindfolded walk takes place to raise awareness about blindness

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Blindfolded walk outside Observatory from left to right: Jo Birtwistle (Observatory), Sandy Barr (Beccles Lions), Richard Stubbings (Beccles Mayor), Sharon Page, Malcolm Bardsley, Glyn Page (all Beccles Lions) - Credit: Observatory

A blindfolded walk took place last week in Beccles to raise awareness about the difficulties blind and visually impaired people face.

Organised by Lions Club of Beccles and Observatory the Opticians, Mayor of Beccles Richard Stubbings took part and said: “I always like to help out for a worthy cause, and this is a very worthy cause. It’s fascinating.

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Starting blindfolded walk from left to right: Beccles Mayor Richard Stubbings, Sharon Page of Beccles Lions, Jo Birtwistle of Observatory the Opticians, Sandy Barr, President of Beccles & District Lions. - Credit: Observatory

"You’re led around the town and you don’t even know which direction you’re going.

"Unless your leader is telling you where you are, you’ve got no idea where you are. It’s always a very interesting day."

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Blindfolded walk through Beccles market from left to right: Jo Birtwistle (Observatory), Sandy Barr (President Beccles Lions), Richard Stubbings (Beccles Mayor), Sharon Page (Beccles Lions), Malcolm Bardsley & Glyn Page of Beccles Lions holding the banner behind. - Credit: Observatory

The walk started and finished outside the optician’s practice at Smallgate, travelling through the marketplace and returning via the King’s Head pub.

Optometrist at Observatory the Opticians, René Moor, said: “The blindfolded walk may seem light-hearted, but there is, of course, a very serious reason why we are doing this.

"There are over two million people living with significant sight loss in the UK.

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"Every day, 250 people start to lose their sight in the UK and at least half of all sight loss is avoidable.

"We want to raise awareness of the difficulties that visually impaired and blind people face as part of their everyday routines, such as entering shops, crossing roads, negotiating kerbs and shopping in busy high streets."

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Group photo Blindfold Walk 2021 from left to right: Emily, Jo, René (all Observatory the Opticians), Sandy Barr (President of Beccles Lions), Malcolm Bardsley (Lions), Beccles Mayor Richard Stubbings, Glyn Page (Lions), Sharon Page (Lions), Jacqui (Observatory), Fred Helsdon (Lions). - Credit: Observatory

World Sight Day’s theme for 2021 is #lLoveYourEyes. This means being aware of your own eye health, getting a sight test and recommending others do the same.

Observatory the Opticians employee Jo Birtwistle also took part in the walk.

She said: “I found it really interesting.

"You don’t realise what a blind or visually impaired person goes through on a day-to-day basis.

"There are so many obstructions. It was good to get a chance to experience that."

President of the Beccles and District Lions Club, Sandy Barr said: “This walk is to bring awareness to World Sight Day, which is sponsored by Lions International.

"To do that, we have willing victims who are blindfolded and they walk around Beccles, feeling the way that a visually impaired person would."

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