A blind veteran from Oxfordshire overcame an unusually hot February day to complete the Brighton Half Marathon in a strong 2 hours, 39 minutes.
Naz, 42-year-old Army veteran from Abingdon in Oxfordshire, took part in the half marathon to feel a sense of achievement, he said:
“Sport has always been a big part of my life so when I lost my sight I thought I was also losing the ability to achieve anything in sport.
“Crossing that finishing line felt absolutely incredible and shows that I was wrong back then.”
Naz was accompanied during the run by a guide, Stacey, and says that he couldn’t have done it without her:
“Apart from the physical guiding and letting me know of upcoming obstacles, Stacey got me through the course psychologically as well. It was so hot that after 10 miles I was ready to throw in the towel but Stacey gave me so much encouragement and kept me going. I can’t thank her enough.”
Naz served with the Royal Logistics Corps in Abingdon, Sandhurst and Colchester and spent six months on a NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo following the war, service for which he received the NATO Medal for Kosovo.
It was a couple of years after leaving the Army when Naz was diagnosed with glaucoma following a routine eye test, he continued:
“I was devastated. I couldn’t drive anymore so I had lost my independence. On top of that, my whole social network was centred on sport so not being able to play in my football team or train at my athletics club meant I became socially isolated very quickly.
“Luckily a few years later, I found out about Blind Veterans UK. Since then I’ve done so much. Adrenaline weekends, fitness weeks, driving events, shooting, you name it. And all with other people in exactly the same position as myself.”
Naz speaks highly of the support he’s received from the sight loss charity for ex-Service men and women:
“They’ve brought me out of my shell. After I lost my sight, I lost all my confidence, but with the support I’ve received from the team in Abingdon, I’ve managed to get back to my former self.
“I never thought I would be able to do a half marathon, but with Blind Veterans UK’s help, I was able to achieve something great. I have big plans for the future and would love to use my sporting background to take part in the Invictus Games one day.”
Blind Veterans UK helps vision-impaired ex-Service men and women of every generation rebuild their lives after sight loss. Since 1915, the charity has provided rehabilitation, training, practical advice and emotional support to tens of thousands of blind veterans.
Blind Veterans UK currently supports more blind veterans than ever before in the charity’s history, but it knows there are many more who still need its support to rebuild their lives following their sight loss. The charity has a dedicated community team in Oxfordshire who provide support including training, equipment and social events for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women in the local area.