Deafblind man who 'can't identify people' and 'rarely travels alone' to walk nine miles for charity

Alex Patterson walking with his cane
-Credit: (Image: Submitted)

A Co Antrim man is gearing up for a nine mile sponsored walk to support Deafblind UK, a charity dedicated to assisting individuals with combined sight and hearing loss.

The fundraising event, scheduled for 12th June, will see 54-year-old Alex Patterson from Ballymoney journey from Belfast City Hall to the iconic Parliament Buildings at Stormont and back.

Living with deafblindness, Alex has experienced a decline in his vision since his mid-40s and was diagnosed with Cone Rod Dystrophy in 2019, leading to his registration as Severely Sight Impaired.

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Motivated by gratitude for the assistance he's received, Alex is determined to give back to Deafblind UK. The charity offers tailored support to those dealing with sight and hearing loss throughout Northern Ireland, England, and Wales.

Discussing the challenges he faces, Alex shared: "I can't visually identify people, I need them to speak or state who they are. This often creates a sense of isolation when I'm in a group of people. I rarely travel outside my hometown alone as I lack confidence when on my own."

James McVicker, Sensory Support Officer, has been instrumental in helping Alex adapt to his visual impairment.

Reflecting on Alex's journey, James remarked: "We have supported Alex through his diagnoses and it's lovely to see how much confidence he has recently gained. Alex approached Deafblind UK for some support with his mental health, he has now built up the confidence to volunteer with us and help other people who are in a similar position."

Alex has spoken out about the lifeline support he receives from Deafblind UK, expressing his gratitude: "Knowing that there is always someone there who can not only listen, but also offer advice is invaluable. I receive weekly phone calls from a befriender in England and we have built up a fantastic friendship, we both really look forward to our phone calls. I have also been a befriender for Deafblind UK and it is great to be in a position where I can now help support others."

In addition to seeking sponsorship for his upcoming walk on 12th June, Alex is keen to highlight the perils faced by those with sight loss due to inconsiderate parking and unleashed dogs.

He explained: "Parking on footpaths often forces people to walk in the road which is particularly dangerous for people who are visually impaired. Also, dogs who are off the lead are genuine trip hazards. Extendable leads also make walking very difficult for me as they get caught around my legs as I can't see the lead."

Joined by his daughter Jana and James from Deafblind UK, Alex aims to raise £500 for the charity through the walk. For more information or to donate to Alex's cause, visit his JustGiving page.

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