Inspirations: Steve puts best foot forward for Blind Veterans UK

Steve Thomson from Westhampnett is walking 100k in 24 hours'Picture by Bev Downie SUS-140406-115819001
Steve Thomson from Westhampnett is walking 100k in 24 hours'Picture by Bev Downie SUS-140406-115819001

No stranger to a challenge, adventurer Steve Thomson is readying himself for the trek of a lifetime.

Steve Thomson is readying himself for the trek of a lifetime.

Steve’s plan to walk 100km would daunt even the fittest of folk – but the 57-year-old business coach and hypnotherapist is attempting to complete it in just 24 hours.

Steve, who lives in Westhamptnett, is walking from London to Brighton to raise money for the Blind Veterans Charity – formerly known as St Dunstans – which is a cause close to his heart.

“I’m as blind as a housebrick myself,” he said.

“The huge challenges faced by someone losing their sight are daunting. Blind Veterans UK has been supporting servicemen and women who lose their sight for nearly 100 years, and I feel deeply that they deserve what support I can offer.

“There are 3,000 people who are blind as a result of acts of service. That is mostly, although not exclusively, through combat.”

Although he’s not daunted by the prospect of a long walk – Steve has conquered Everest and a trek to Machu Picchu – it will be the longest distance in the shortest space of time he will have attempted. But he has been training hard.

“The first long walk I did ended up being 45km,” said Steve.

“It went well, but we ended up doing an extra 10k because we got lost. It took me a day or two to recover, but it’s all good experience and part of the training process. That’s the one thing about walking – it takes a lot of time.

“With about three weeks to go, we are doing lots of short walks. I am aiming to walk a kilometre in about ten minutes. When I first started it was about ten minutes a kilometre for 50 yards!

“As long as it is not raining, it will be fine.”

Setting off from Putney, in south-west London, on Saturday, June 21, the route will take Steve across the Surrey Hills and North Downs before reaching the familiar hills of the South Downs and home.

Although he will mainly be walking on footpaths and bridleways, Steve and his fellow hikers will also be on minor roads. But as a former American footballer, Steve said the biggest challenge won’t be the physical one.

“It is really easy for your mind to wander into the wrong place while you are walking. You can’t just look at what you are doing,” he said.

“I anticipate that the greatest challenges along the way will be the mental ones, but I’m certainly not discounting the physical pain I expect I’ll have to cope with, too.

“As a hypnotherapist, I have a few little psychological tricks and tools I can use to help to overcome these as they arise.

“If you start thinking about sore feet, you will get sore feet.

“It’s also going to be overnight, so that will be tricky. But we will be stopping on the way.”

The walk finishes at the Blind Veterans UK centre in Ovingdean, near Brighton on Sunday, June 22.

Steve is hoping to raise £1,000 sponsorship and has already reached £320.

“The thing I have said for years when 
working with fundraising is even the smallest amount counts.”

Visit Steve’s fundraising page if you wish to donate or find out more.

Blind Veterans UK

Blind Veterans UK is a charity which believe that no-one who has served the country should battle blindness alone.

The charity helps to provide lifelong practical and emotional support to armed forces and national service veterans, regardless of when they served or what caused their sight loss.

Offering tailored support, the charity aims to promote independence for veterans, helping them to relearn vital life skills – including being independent in their own homes.

The charity offers learning, training and recreation opportunities and also provides long-term nursing, residential and respite care.

The charity was established in 1915 by Sir Arthur Pearson – who owned the Evening Standard and founded the Daily Express. Having lost his own sight through glaucoma, he was shocked at society’s attitude to blindness and decided to help those who had lost their sight in the first world war by giving them care and rehabilitation.

Nearly a century later, Blind Veterans UK not only cares for 
ex-service men and women blinded in action, but for veterans who have lost their sight through accident, illness or old age.

The charity has three centres in Brighton, Llandudno and Sheffield which provide residential and respite care, sports facilities and welfare staff who support blind veterans across the UK to live independently within their own communities.

To find out more, visit Blind Veterans UK website