A blind veteran from Chorley, Lancashire has celebrated his 90th birthday by traveling down Zip World Velocity in Bethesda, North-West Wales, the fastest zip line in the world, and the longest in Europe.
Bob Hill raised money for Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, by flying down the world famous wire, on which he clocked 100mph.
Far from planning a quiet and low-key affair, Bob decided to opt for a more unconventional way of celebrating his birthday. It was when a friend suggested this particular activity to Bob that he knew he’d found what he was looking for. He says: “90 years old is a significant birthday, so to celebrate I wanted to do something suitably significant! I was going to do a parachute jump but my doctor was having none of it. I was then told about the zip line and thought right, this looks interesting!
“It was absolutely wonderful and beyond even my wildest expectations. Even though it was over a week ago I’m still on cloud nine.
“Once I got to the bottom I asked them if they could send me straight back up! I was desperate to do it again. It was just awesome.”
It was in 2012 when Bob first contracted glaucoma, which later developed into age related macular degeneration (ARMD), leaving him with severely limited vision in both of his eyes. With the support and training provided by Blind Veterans UK, Bob has been able to regain his confidence and achieve a degree independence, in spite of his sight loss. He says: “Well what can I say. My first involvement with the charity was when they invited me onto an introduction course at their Llandudno centre. It was then that I realised what a wonderful organisation it really is.”
He continues: “They’ve provided me with several pieces of equipment, such as reading magnifiers, along with recreational trips with other veterans who are being supported by the charity. They’ve also provided me with support since my wife sadly passed away. I truly appreciate everything they’ve done for me, I really do. It’s a charity I genuinely love and I am proud to be able to give something back to them.”
Bob is no stranger to fundraising, having celebrated his 80th birthday in similarly philanthropic style. He says: “For my 80th, we held a raffle at a local hotel. We went all out and laid on a big buffet and told our guests to bring prizes. The event was a fantastic success and we raised around £1,000!”
This time around, Bob has already raised in excess of £1,000. He says: “I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone that’s donated.”
Bob already has his sights set on his next fundraising activity. He explains: “For my 100th, I’m thinking of flying to the moon!”
To support Bob, please visit justgiving.com/fundraising/BobHillVelocityZipWire.
Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in the First World War. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning WWII to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan.
For more than a century, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision-impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.