A partially sighted man who plans to walk along the Inca Trail to support Lancashire sight loss charity Galloway’s has smashed his fundraising goal.
James Coulton, who is outdoor activities coordinator at Galloway’s, held a charity night at Deepdale Labour Club, in Preston, as part of his target to reach £3,850 for the sight loss charity’s Trek Peru challenge.
He raised £1,000 during the evening, which included entertainment from singers Alyssa and Holly. There was also an auction and raffle, with prizes from many businesses and organisations, including Preston North End, Windermere Manor Hotel, DW Fitness, Water Park Lakeland Adventure Centre and Tesco.
James, who lives in Farington Moss, in Lancashire, said: “I am really pleased we raised so much. I wish to thank everyone for their generosity, by buying and selling raffle tickets, taking part in the auction or by simply donating. Everyone has been incredibly supportive and it means so much.
“This money will go towards continuing our services to support people through sight loss. This includes our Get Active programme, social groups, and emotional support.”
One service user, Tommy Nelson, was delighted to support the fundraising, saying: “My self-confidence has shot up since attending the Galloway's Get Active events organised by James.”
James had reasonably good eyesight until the age of 17/18 when he had a cataracts operation.
Then in 2000, one of his retinas - the thin layer at the back of your eye - became loose. He underwent three surgeries in an attempt to reattach it, which were unsuccessful, leaving one eye shrunken, opaque and unable to detect light. That same year, he also developed glaucoma in the other eye and cells in his cornea began falling apart.
The 51-year-old admits his sight loss hit him hard. But after visiting Galloway’s, which has sites in Penwortham, Chorley, Morecambe and Southport, he realised he could still do the things he had previously enjoyed doing.
He said: “I first started to lose my sight in November 2002. I went from being able to drive to being registered as partially sighted and it was quite devastating. Everything I had known had come to an end.
“I just wanted to sit in my room and listen to the TV.
“I had always been quite active and I loved the outdoors, so I thought I would not be able to do anything else.
“I first went to Galloway’s in January 2003 and I looked at their outdoor activities. I did canoeing and kayaking. That October, I went away on their residential week to the Lakes.
“I was doing all sorts of things but I was still not confident. But one day we visited a climbing wall and there was one guy who was blind from birth. Something triggered with me that if he can climb the wall and I could give it a go. From that moment, I realised there was still things I could do.
“I came back a different person and I did more things with Galloway’s. I started building my confidence up and I got my life back together.
“I started volunteering and I got into full time employment, running the recording studio for Talking Newspaper. Then three years ago I took on the role of outdoor activities co-ordinator.
“Galloway’s means a massive amount to me. It has helped to rebuild my life and given me confidence and independence.”
The grandfather-of-two has now raised £4,000 and is now looking forward to taking part in Galloway’s’ first overseas trek in Peru, which takes place from October 10 to 19.
He added: “One of the things I wanted to do was to trek through Peru. It is going to be challenging for me and I will be raising money along the way to help Galloway’s carry on the fantastic work it does.
“I have seen on a daily basis how much people have come along on their sight loss journey.
“Without Galloway’s, I have no idea what I would be doing. I would not have the confidence I have now. If I can help out and give independence to other people, I think it is a useful thing to be able to do. I love the job I do because I see how much of a difference we do make to people with sight loss.”
To support James even further, donate to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=JamesCoulton_TrekPeru2020&pageUrl=2
There are still places left for the Peru trek. Registration is £299 and people must raise a minimum of £3,850.
"Galloways means a massive amount to me. It has helped to rebuild my life and given me confidence and independence."