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How to Save a Life: Learning to Live Again after Blindness. Maria, 51, learns to ski after losing her sight

learning to ski after losing sight imageArticle by Maria Pikulski

It is so easy to make excuses to not do things once we reach our 50s. Maria shares her inspirational story – achieving things most of us would run a mile from – despite losing her eyesight.

At the beginning of 2004 I was trying to come to terms with sight loss since being registered blind in September 2003. I was off sick from work as a nurse and was fighting to try and stay employed, a fight that was to last four and a half years in total.

I just wanted to give up.

Then my friend who worked for Blind Veterans UK’s pension’s office told me I was eligible for its support because I had previously served in the forces.

Blind Veterans UK has quite simply saved my life. Through the charity I have learnt a range of individual living skills, including computer training. I was given equipment to help me in everyday life, such as a CCTV which helped me read my emails and a computer which has allowed me to do online banking and store all of my addresses and telephone numbers so that I keep up with correspondence with people.

Outdoor activities have rebuilt my confidence after losing my sight

Outdoor activities have also really helped me to gain confidence. Skiing was a huge challenge that also helped me reach my goal of losing six stone, which is just brilliant.

I’ve also skydived out of an airplane (which I was only able to do when I had lost enough weight), walking 108 miles along Hadrian’s Wall and wing walking. 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 have never considered being a runner!

Best of all the support of the charity and other members has allowed me to re-gain my independence, which is very important to me.

I feel that I have had to overcome different challenges to get to where I am now – depression, a lack of self-confidence and a loss of independence. I couldn’t see the point of anything beforehand and now, as a result of meeting other people who are worse off than myself, I have been inspired to me to carry on living and I just get on with it now, and I love a new challenge every year!

Through the charity I am also now working again, as an ECLO [Eye Clinic Liaison Officer], which I love, and my friends have seen a real change in me in terms of seeing me gain confidence and get back my independence and my life.  It’s a good feeling.

About Blind Veterans UK

Blind Veterans UK formerly St Dunstans, founded 1915) helps all blind ex-Service men and women (including those who did National Service) lead independent and fulfilling lives by supporting them with much-needed support to adjust to sight loss, overcome the challenges of blindness and enjoy daily life.


If you or someone you know is suffering from sight loss please go to http://www.noonealone.org.uk/ to check if you or they are eligible for support.





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