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Louise

Photo of Louise

Blind runner Louise can remember her first ever run very clearly; after just a short distance she went home exhausted. Now she would struggle to count the number of miles she has clocked up and her tally includes a very impressive 20 marathons.

Her next big challenge should have been the London Marathon in April and Louise, who is a client at Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB) is competing to raise money for the charity, which is celebrating 160 years in 2020.

Louise will be taking part in the rescheduled virtual London Marathon on Sunday 4th October.

“I’ve been running for more than 10 years now. I just wanted to get fitter. I ran around a lake in Wakefield and I couldn’t do one lap. I remember going home and collapsing. But I kept going and built it up. I like being out in the fresh air, the endorphins get going and there is a feeling of accomplishment afterwards.

“I never thought back then that it was leading to where I have got to now. It all depends on people being willing to give me their time, of course, I couldn’t do it without a guide,” said Louise who has been blind all her life after a very premature birth.

“I like to have an interest and get involved in activity and I have made lots of friends through running.”

As well as the running marathons, Louise is a big fan of Parkrun, the free weekly 5K event which takes place in parks and open spaces all over the world. She’s taken part in more than 300 of them – most often at her local Hillsborough Park in Sheffield but in a lot of other venues too. She’s also a fan of the coffee and chat afterwards with the other runners.

Louise has taken part in the Paralympics twice - in Sydney 2000 and London 2012 in the physically-challenging sport of Goalball and she’s done quite a few long distance bike rides on a tandem, again with the help of a sighted friend.

“With the cycling and the running, all of this would be impossible without a sighted guide. I can’t just go and plod round on my own and I am really glad of the help I get with my training and the races.”

The place in the London Marathon for Louise and her guide comes courtesy of Virgin Money and her sponsorship page is on their site. Her page is: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LouiseSimpson6

It will be the third time she has taken part in the event and Louise is conscious that her family and friends and her supportive work colleagues at the Jobcentre call centre in Hartshead have already been very generous in their donations in previous years.

“I’ll be doing my best to raise as much money as possible but if everyone who reads this could give just a small amount, even £1, that would be a big help.”

Louise’s favourite lunch-stop when she is working is the Urban Deli on Campo Lane in Sheffield city centre. They’re supporting her by having an SRSB collection box and a poster explaining her Marathon fundraising to customers. “We’re happy to support Louise, she comes in a few times a week and the girls look after her. They’re even putting some of their tips into the collection box for her.” said joint owner Phil.

Louise decided to take on a big event like the London Marathon again to support SRSB because she knows from her own experience how much of a lifeline it can be to people with visual impairment.

She moved to Sheffield about 3 years ago and got help with things like applying for a bus pass, which can be tricky when you can’t see and you’re required to send in a photo of yourself.

“I get the regular newsletter and I have joined in some of the guided walks. The clients only café is a nice welcoming space to come and bring a friend and it’s just good to know that help is always here.”

Louise says that anyone who can sponsor her will be supporting a great cause. 

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