Sight loss awareness workshop leads to a completed parkrun


Four months ago, England Athletics Club and Coach Support Officer Helen Pearce delivered the England Athletics Sight Loss Awareness and Guide Running workshop in Northampton. 

Attendees included Graeme Wilson - Sports Development Officer at Northamptonshire Sport, Steve McGowan who wanted to become a Guide Runner, and John Kelly who is a visually impaired wheelchair user.  Indeed, the catalyst for the workshop was actually a call from John back in April when he expressed an interest in getting more physically active.  From this the VI Workshop was planned.  At the workshop, John expressed a desire to complete a parkrun – and in less than 4 months he’s made it happen!


Graeme commented, “Congratulations to John on completing his first of hopefully many parkruns on Saturday! I was delighted to see the video and photos [posted on facebook] of him finishing which was hopefully worth all the wait over the last few months to get started!”

Helen Pearce added, “It’s been a huge team effort to make this happen – coordinated mainly by Graeme Wilson at Northamptonshire Sport.”

John told us, "Thank you for the encouragement and messages.  I very much enjoyed Saturday, and thank you Matt and Steve for your support - obviously I could not have done it without you - this is much appreciated."

Graeme also added a number of thank yous; “Thanks to Steve McGowan and Matt Bushell for being John’s guides! It was hopefully a positive learning curve for you all and the reception you got crossing the line along with all the positive comments since more than made all your time and effort worthwhile!" 

Matt Birkett - England Athletics Head of Running Participation noted, "Let’s hope it acts as a catalyst for other disabled people to find their way into running."

On hearing the news, Sinton Hewitt, founder of the initiative tweeted, “That's what we are all about. Thank you Northampton parkrun.”

If you are interested in attending a Sight Loss Awareness and Guide Running workshop, get in touch with a local England Athletics CCSO, or check the website's Events section.

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