Volunteer inspired to support blind charity after pub encounter

Blind Vision Norfolk staff member Ed Bates, is pictured on the left with volunteer guide Matt Lawley 

Blind Vision Norfolk staff member Ed Bates, is pictured on the left with volunteer guide Matt Lawley - Credit: Submitted

A Norwich man was inspired to help out with fundraisers to support visually-impaired people after an encounter in the pub during his university days.

Matt Lawley has become a volunteer for Vision Norfolk and his first assignment will be to help blind Vision Norfolk staff member Ed Bates on a 50km walk next month. 

Mr Lawley was inspired to support the Norfolk charity after realising a man was blind in the pub during his university days. 

Volunteer Matt Lawley is pictured on the left with Ed Bates in training for the Broads Walk Challenge 

Volunteer Matt Lawley is pictured on the left with Ed Bates in training for the Broads Walk Challenge - Credit: Submitted

"I was a student, I was watching a football match in a pub when I became aware of a chap in a Man Utd shirt who had his back to the screen, but who was engaged with the match and enjoying it as much as everybody else," Mr Lawley said. 

"I realised that he was blind, and that his sight loss wasn’t stopping him from living his life to the full." 


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He added: “Since then I have always followed blind football and visually-impaired athletes at the Paralympics, so I thought I should take the step and become a volunteer to support Vision Norfolk, which does so much to help visually-impaired people lead independent and fulfilled lives in the county.”

Mr Lawley and Mr Bates will be walking Aylsham to Acle via North Walsham, Stalham, Hickling and Potter Heigham as part of the 2021 Broads Walk Challenge event.

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Mr Bates, who is the co-ordinator for Vision Norfolk's new Great Yarmouth hub which will open in the coming weeks, has previously undertaken a sky-dive to raise money for the charity, as well as running in the Norwich 10K.

“Walking this distance is a challenge for anybody, so it will be daunting for Matt to do this as his first guiding task,” said Mr Bates. 

“He has been quick to pick up the guiding techniques, and I have absolute confidence in him as a guide already.”

The Broads Walk Challenge takes place on Saturday June 12, and will see teams and individuals from a number of local charities undertaking 25km, 50km and 90km challenges around the Broadland area.

A crowdfunding page for Mr Bates and Mr Lawley's challenge can be found at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Edward-Bates3

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