Blind Scot aims to cycle to all four UK capital cities

Ken Reid is due to start his cycling challenge on July 29.

Ken Reid is due to start his cycling challenge on July 29.

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A Scot is marking the 30th anniversary of his going blind by embarking on a 750-mile cycle journey that will take in all four UK capital cities.

Ken Reid, 57, begins the journey by tandem from Edinburgh on Friday, July 29th. A former chair of the charity RNIB Scotland, he hopes to raise funds for RNIB’s ‘talking books’ audio-library, “an absolute lifeline”, he insists, for those like himself who can’t read print.

Ken, himself, was diagnosed with the degenerative eye condition retinitis pigmentosa in 1986.

Commenting, Ken said: “There was no history of this condition in my family, and we had no idea how to deal with it. The condition is untreatable, so the doctors then had little more to say to me than to say I was going blind.

“So began my journey into sight loss. The prognosis was correct, I have gone blind. The rest of the journey has been a real one of discovery, with many highs and lows along the way.”

Since then, Ken has gone on to be one of Scotland’s most persuasive ambassadors for the needs of blind and partially sighted people.

Ken, along with a series of ‘pilots’ accompanying him as co-cyclists, is heading to Cairnryan, then ferry to Belfast from where he will cycle down to Dublin. From there he will take another ferry to Holyhead for Cardiff, and on to London. The trip should take around two weeks in all.

Ken, who lives in North Berwick, added: “The sight loss journey isn’t an easy one, and I don’t intend that my cycle journey should be easy either. I am riding a tandem, sitting on the back seat, and helped by a relay of pilots. They will navigate us through the parts of the country they will be familiar with, guiding me from the office of RNIB Scotland in Edinburgh, Northern Ireland, Wales and on to London.

“By making this journey, I want to increase awareness of the journey that more than 100 people across the UK start every day towards sight loss.”

In particular, Ken wants the money he raises to go towards producing more audio books. An avid reader himself, without these, he says, a whole world of literature would be denied to blind people.

“But it costs RNIB £2,500 to produce each ‘talking book’. If I can raise £10 for each mile of my journey that’s three new books for adults or children,” he said.

You can support Ken through his Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/Cycle750/ or Text to donate - CCLE75 £5 - to telephone number 70070.

You can follow Ken’s progress on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cycle750