Blind great-grandfather's Captain Tom-style challenge in aid of veterans
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A former Royal Engineer who was "grieving for his eyesight" after going blind last year has been raising money for veterans with a Captain Tom-style walk in Stowmarket.
Great-grandfather Colin Hawkins, 84, was registered severely visually impaired in November and can only see the brightness from the sun.
His daughter, Jill Sainsbury, suggested that he take up a challenge similar to that of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who walked 100 laps of his garden last year to mark his 100th birthday, in a bid to raise funds for Blind Veterans UK.
Captain Sir Tom died with coronavirus on February 2 after raising more than £30million for NHS Charities Together, leading to an outpouring of emotion from the nation - including members of the Suffolk community he inspired.
Mr Hawkins, who lost sight in his left eye six years ago, has walked 50 laps of the Stowmarket Recreation Ground, near the town centre, in a challenge that has captured the hearts of the Stowmarket community.
Nearly £3,000 has been raised on a JustGiving fundraiser, nearing the family's target of £3,500.
The veteran has decided to walk his 63rd lap next Monday to commemorate his 63rd anniversary with his wife, Jean.
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Mr Hawkins has received a series of audiobooks from the charity as he aims to keep his mind active despite his condition.
He said: "I've been on the charity's books ever since I lost sight in my left eye.
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"I used to be part of the Royal British Legion and they have given nothing but praise to Blind Veterans UK."
Mrs Sainsbury said she was keen to lift her father's spirits after seeing the impact of the condition and how it was affecting his mental health.
She said: "My dad lost his sight at the end of November. It was the first time I had seen him cry.
"He was angry and he was depressed. It seemed like he was grieving for his eyesight.
"I came up with this challenge to do laps of the recreation ground, a bit like Captain Tom. My dad doesn't refuse a challenge.
"He is a veteran and Blind Veterans UK has been helping him tremendously."