Blindness is a life sentence not a death sentence, says Olympic torchbearer Ken
NORTH Berwick man Ken Reid (52), who has been registered blind since the age of 30, will carry the Olympic torch for 300m through Musselburgh this Thursday morning between 8.40 and 9am.
Ken, who is chair of the country’s leading sight loss charity, the Royal National Institute of Blind People Scotland, said: “My nomination was a very humbling and rewarding experience.
“A good friend of mine, Charlie Marshall, nominated me. The criteria was that the nominee must be ‘inspiring in their community’. My immediate response was – surely there must be more inspiring people than me! But I was delighted and very excited all the same – in fact I danced round the room when I heard!”
Although he grew up fully sighted, Ken was diagnosed with the condition Retinitis Pigmentosa in his twenties. A rapid deterioration in his sight led to his being registered blind.
Ken worked for the brewing giant Scottish and Newcastle in a variety of roles before finally accepting medical retirement in 2008. Since then, he has advised companies and organisations on how to be more open and accessible to people with disabilities, particularly sight loss.
Ken is adamant that the best way of making the sighted world understand that people with sight loss are capable of doing things is to get out there and do it. “For me, that means demonstrating to other blind and partially sighted people – particularly those who have only recently been affected – that there is life after sight loss.
“As an Olympic torch-bearer, I want to demonstrate that being blind is not the end of the world. It’s a life sentence but not a death sentence.”
Ken will be one of 8,000 Olympic torchbearers throughout the UK, all nominated by someone they know, who are carrying the torch over 70 days.
Charlie Marshall, the friend who nominated him, said: “Ken is as indefatigable as he is inspirational. A cliché yes, but if there were more people in the world with Ken`s compassion, drive, courage, joie de vivre and generosity of spirit, the world would indeed be a better place. I can think of no better qualified torch bearer. ”
Anyone with the condition may like to get more information from this charity which Ken has been associated with and which helps people with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Here are the contact details:-
RP Fighting Blindness
PO Box 350, Buckingham, MK18 1GZ, UK
Tel: Office 01280 821334
Tel: The RP Helpline 0845 123 2354
Registered Charity 271729