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Blindfolded walk through Beccles

Observatory the Opticians in Beccles organised a blindfolded walk through Beccles to mark World Sight Day. Joined by the Lions Club of Beccles and the Mayor of Beccles, the event aimed to draw attention to the challenges that blind and vision impaired people face and overcome every day.

Among those taking part was Beccles mayor Barry Darch, who said, “I was far more aware of the variety of surfaces and it’s easy to think that a pathway is flat but of course it’s not. It certainly gave me an insight into how difficult it is for blind people and people who are partially sighted, especially in an urban situation where it’s very difficult in terms of obstacles and people”.

The walk started and finished outside the optician’s practice at 1 Smallgate, travelling through the marketplace and returning via the King’s Head pub.

Optometrist at Observatory the Opticians, René Moor, said: “We do a blindfolded walk every year 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. There are over two million people living with significant sight loss in the UK and 340,000 people who are registered blind or partially sighted. Every day, 250 people start to lose their sight in the UK and at least half of all sight loss is avoidable. Having an eye test can detect serious health conditions before they start affecting your sight”.

World Sight Day’s theme for 2022 is #lLoveYourEyes. This means being aware of your own eye health, getting an eye test and recommending others do the same.

Observatory the Opticians employee Rachael Andrew also took part in the walk. She said, “It was an amazing experience although very daunting. You think you know the town pretty well, but when you can’t see anything, you realise that you don’t. I was surprised by the number of obstructions on the footpaths that most people don’t really notice”.

The Beccles & District Lions Club is part of an international charity which supports the local community as well as humanitarian causes across the world. President Chris Eglington said, “This walk is to bring awareness to World Sight Day, which is sponsored by Lions International. We find the best way to do this is to blindfold people and walk around Beccles, experiencing things as a blind or visually impaired person would”.

Blindfolded walk Observatory the Opticians joined by the Mayor of Beccles and the Beccles Lions