Blindfold Mile offers a vision of the challenge facing others - The Evesham Observer

Blindfold Mile offers a vision of the challenge facing others

Evesham Editorial 18th Jun, 2019   0

OUR eyesight is so precious, and losing it – if only to walk ‘The Blindfold Mile’ – proved to be a real eye-opener of an experience.

I’d joined a number of volunteers in Redditch, including the borough’s Deputy Mayor Councillor Gareth Prosser, to step out in the rain last Saturday morning (June 8) as part of an awareness campaign organised by Sight Concern Worcestershire.

It was an unnerving experience, made more so by many people’s failure to realise someone was obviously sightless and unable to get out of their way.

Paired up with a sighted guide – I was joined by my friend Elaine Herlihy – we set off on a trail from St Stephen’s Church in the town centre that took in HoW College, the John Bonham Memorial, the Library, Palace Theatre, and the Kingfisher Shopping Centre.

Out on the trail, uneven surfaces, steps, street furniture, cars, other people, all had to be negotiated.

A number of tasks had to be attempted – a simple jigsaw, a drawing exercise, kicking a football, buying a cup of tea, making a clay pot, and for me best of all, exploring the John Bonham Memorial through touch – what a stunning piece of art.

Our other senses kicked in – traffic was louder, the feel of pavement dimples at crossings, the taste of our ‘Wagon Wheel’ at the library, the smell of the market.

But it was still totally disorientating – my mind had raced far ahead of my body and it wasn’t until I heard the echo in the college quadrant that I actually knew where I was.

Most trying of all though was Saturday morning in the shopping centre.

By now I had the responsibility of guiding Elaine and for the first time I noticed all those little obstacles – comfy chairs, little market stalls, cutout motorcycles for the Royal Enfield exhibition, all of which had to be passed.

So far so good, but turning down the main mall to return to Worcester Square was a real trial.

It was so crowded people frequently failed to register us, despite wearing Sight Concern T-shirts and one of us being blindfolded.

The two mobility scooter users we came across were frankly a menace.

Speaking about the entire event, Coun Prosser who went round with his consort wife Lynn, said: “It was a humbling experience. I found the the situation very daunting and it reinforced to me just how much we take our eyesight for granted.”


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