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James speaks of the impact of sight loss as he prepares to trek the Inca Trail for Galloways

Posted on - 10th February, 2020 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, Deepdale, Health, People, Preston News
Galloway’s James Coulton at Skiddaw_

A partially sighted man has spoken about the impact of losing his sight as he prepares to trek the Inca Trail to raise money for Galloways.

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James Coulton, the outdoor activities co-ordinator for Galloways, had reasonably good eyesight until the age of 17 or 18 when he had to have a cataracts operation.

But in 2000, his vision started to fail when one of his retinas – the thin layer at the back of your eye – became loose. He underwent three surgeries in an attempt to reattach it, which were unsuccessful, leaving one eye shrunken, opaque and unable to detect light.

The same year, he also developed glaucoma in the other eye and cells in his cornea began falling apart.

The 51-year-old admits his sight loss hit him hard. But after visiting
Galloway’s, which has sites in Penwortham, Chorley, Morecambe and
Southport, he realised he could still do the things he had previously
enjoyed doing.

He said: “I first started to lose my sight in November 2002. I went from
being able to drive to being registered as partially sighted and it was quite
devastating. Everything I had known had come to an end.

“I just wanted to sit in my room and listen to the TV.

“I had always been quite active and I loved the outdoors, so I thought I
would not be able to do anything else.

“I first went to Galloway’s in January 2003 and I looked at their outdoor
activities. I did canoeing and kayaking. That October, I went away on their
residential week to the Lakes.

“I was doing all sorts of things but I was still not confident. But one day we
visited a climbing wall and there was one guy who was blind from birth.

“Something triggered with me that if he can climb the wall and I could give it a go. From that moment, I realised there was still things I could do.

“I came back a different person and I did more things with Galloway’s. I
started building my confidence up and I got my life back together.

“I started volunteering and I got into full time employment, running the
recording studio for Talking Newspaper. Then three years ago I took on the
role of outdoor activities co-ordinator.

“Galloway’s means a massive amount to me. It has helped to rebuild my
life and given me confidence and independence.”

Read more: Former Blog Preston reporter Olivia treks the Great Wall of China

The grandfather-of-two is now looking forward to taking part in Galloway’s
first overseas trek in Peru.

Machu Picchu where the trek will be taking place
Machu Picchu Pic: Dennis Jarvis, Flikr

However, in order to take part in the trek, James needs to hit a fundraising target of £3,850.

On Saturday February 29 he s hosting a charity event at Deepdale Labour Club, Skeffington Road, to help him hit that target.

There will a singer, a raffle and an auction, with prizes including a two
nights’ stay at a hotel in Windermere, a day of outdoor activities for six
people at Water Park Lakeland Adventure Centre and a PNE family ticket.
The fun starts at 7.30pm.

James said: “One of the things I wanted to do was to trek through Peru. It is
going to be challenging for me and I will be raising money along the way to
help Galloway’s carry on the fantastic work it does.

“I have seen on a daily basis how much people have come along on their
sight loss journey.

“Without Galloway’s, I have no idea what I would be doing. I would not
have the confidence I have now.

“If I can help out and give independence to other people, I think it is a useful thing to be able to do. I love the job I do because I see how much of a difference we do make to people with sight loss.”
 
To support James and make a donation, visit his Just Giving page.
 
There are still places left for the Peru trek, which takes place between
October 9 to 18. Registration is £299 and people must raise a minimum of
£3,850. 

To sign up, visit https://www.galloways.org.uk/inca-trail or email
charlotte.carnell@galloways.org.uk or call 01772 744 148.

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