Support My Charity Abseil For Nystagmus Research!

I have something hugely exciting and important to announce in today’s post and videoI’m doing a charity abseil!!! It would mean the world if you could sponsor me for it, and I’ll gladly give you a shoutout in return! 🙂

On Sunday 23rd September, I will be abseiling 80 metres (262 feet) down the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The abseil is run by a company called Wire & Sky. I’ve never done an abseil before, so this is a massive one for a beginner, dangling off the UK’s tallest sculpture! The 20 mile views across London will be incredible though, so it’ll be worth fighting any nerves for!

The Orbit Tower and Olympic Stadium, at the Olympic Park in London

I’m taking on the challenge in partnership with the Nystagmus Network and Moorfields Eye Charity, to raise money for pioneering nystagmus research at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology (more details on all of those later in this post).

You can sponsor me via my JustGiving page wherever you are in the world.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

In the UK you can also text WENA80 followed by a space and your amount to 70070. The amount can be either £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 – e.g. WENA80 £5. The code stands for “Well Eye Never Abseil” if you’re wondering, and 80 represents the 80 metres. Clever, no?

A image of a black smartphone against a red background. The white screen of the phone, on its side in landscape mode, has red text saying Sponsor my abseil for nystagmus research! Text WENA80 £5 to 70070. In the bottom right corner of the red background is a credit for Just Text Giving by Vodafone.

Text donations are free for Vodafone customers, while other networks may charge, so check their standard rates first if need be. Your entire donation amount will go to the charity.

Also in the UK, via the website or text, you will be asked if you want to claim Gift Aid on your donation. If you’re a UK taxpayer, please say yes! The government will then add 25% on to your donation at no extra cost to you. So a £10 donation will be increased to £12.50. It really makes a big difference!

Whatever you can give, big or small, will receive my immense gratitude and a shoutout, because it all adds up! Or if you can’t donate, that’s absolutely fine – all I ask is that you at least share this post or my video or my JustGiving page as widely as you can, to help me raise awareness. Thank you so much! 🙂

Read on for more details about why I’m doing this.

Continue reading “Support My Charity Abseil For Nystagmus Research!”

June 2018 Favourites

Time for another monthly favourites post and video, this time looking back over June. It was a significant month on social media for a few reasons, plus I also got to see 2 theatre shows, went out to a few museums and did a few walking tours in the nice weather. So there’s plenty to mention.

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May 2018 Favourites

May was a lovely month. The weather’s been gorgeous lately, for the most part, and with no major events going on it’s been quite a relaxing few weeks .But there are still various bits and pieces I’ve enjoyed, and want to mention in this latest post and video update. So I hope you find this interesting.

To start with though, I just quickly want to plug a couple of upcoming events in June that will interest some of you. They’re for people all over the world to join in with, not just the UK. The more the merrier really, as it will help to spread vital awareness in both cases.

Sue Ricketts talking to a lady at the Nystagmus Network table ,with a tall poster next to it giving details of the charity.June 20th will be Nystagmus Awareness Day, which is its new permanent date, having moved from November. This year’s theme is Nystagmus In The Open, where people are being encouraged to do outdoor activities to raise funds and generate awareness. Sue, who runs the Nystagmus Network, is opening her garden for people to visit, for instance. People are also being invited to submit their stories online to show how amazing people with nystagmus are.

The Aniridia Day logo is a cartoon style image of the Earth, wearing sunglasses, smiling and giving a double thumbs up. Curving over the top, in yellow text with black outline, are the words “Aniridia Day”. Below the Earth in bold black text is 21 June, and below that the address for aniridiaday.org.June 21st will then be Aniridia Day. This is the second time it’s been held, as it was a big success last year. This year’s awareness campaign is called Aniridia Sight, where we want people with aniridia to share a photo or video of a scene, and describe how they see it through their eyes. So the more people that get involved, the more we can show how varied the vision of people with aniridia is. And then there will hopefully be live webinars too, for people to discuss aniridia related topics e.g. doctors, researchers, people with aniridia, etc. If you’d be interested in doing a webinar on the day, please fill out the form to sign up.

So now that’s out of the way, let me tell you what I’ve been up to in May.

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My First Aniridia Network Conference

One of the first people I met after moving to London last year was James, a trustee at the Aniridia Network. He got in touch after he saw me writing about aniridia on my blog, and noticed that we had other things in common too. So we met up and became friends, which was a great welcome to London in my early days here.

Over the months since then, I’ve became a voluntary communications officer for the charity, which involves helping out with blog posts, social media content and email newsletters, as and when time permits. One of the first things we did together was to edit the promo video for the first Aniridia Day last year, which was very successful.

And now the latest project has been recording and publishing material relating to the Aniridia Network Conference, which took place on 14 April. It’s their flagship annual event, bringing together people with aniridia, parents of children with the condition, medical professionals, researchers, etc, for a day of presentations, activities, socialising and information gathering.

And this was my first time at the conference, so I was really looking forward to it. Not only would I be helping out with filming, but I was also asked to give a speech there as well, so it looked set to be a very busy day!

So in this post I want to tell you how it went. And this is just my own personal perspective, this isn’t part of my social media work for the charity. They are of course welcome to quote from this post, but they haven’t asked or sponsored me to write this. You can see their own updates about the event, including photos, videos and feedback, on their websiteFacebookTwitter and Youtube pages, with much more to share over the coming days and weeks. But for now, here’s my own experience of the day.

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Rare Disease Day Photo Challenge

Update (March 1st) I won the challenge, much to my surprise! Thank you so much to Rare Disease UK! It was great fun being involved, because I loved the theme of the campaign, and I really enjoyed seeing other people’s photos. So very well done to all involved. We can all be proud of our efforts to raise awareness during the month! 🙂

Happy Rare Disease Day! 🙂

Today is a wonderful international opportunity to raise awareness of rare diseases, conditions, disabilities, etc, to educate people and highlight the need for greater funding and research. Here in the UK, it’s led by Rare Disease UK. But there are events taking place worldwide, so there will be related organisations in many countries.

1 in 17 people have a rare disease, meaning it’s a lot more common than you might think. So even if you don’t have one yourself, chances are you know somebody who does. And if you do have a rare condition, you’re certainly not alone.

There are over 6,000 rare diseases, affecting over 300 million people worldwide (including 30 million in Europe). That’s a huge number! So this is a day for all of us unusual rarities to get together, along with anyone and everyone who supports us and the cause in any way.

This year, the theme is “Show your rare, show you care”, and everyone can get involved, regardless of whether or they you have a rare disease. So that includes patients, families, carers, medical professionals, policy makers and members of the public.

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Building My New Social Network With A Visual Impairment

I’ve shared overviews of this story as guest posts on Scope’s community forum and the Nystagmus Network’s newsletter. Many thanks to them both for featuring me! And if you’ve found me via one of those articles, hello and welcome! 🙂

On September 30th, I gave a talk at the Nystagmus Network’s Open Day about how I had been building a new social network for myself in London. It was my first time giving a public speech about myself, but it went really well. I spoke for about 15 minutes, then we had a group discussion for the next 15 minutes. It got a very positive response, and I got chatting to many people as a result of it, so I was very happy with it. And I’ve written blog posts about how I prepared for it and my experience at the Open Day.

So this post is a written version of that speech, and I’ve posted a video version that I filmed on the same evening. Both are longer than the actual speech I gave at the Open Day, as without constraints on time or length I’ve been able to explain things in a bit more detail. So the actual speech was a slightly more concise version of this, although 15 minutes was still quite a bit of time to fill!

Obviously my situation is unique to me, and everyone’s circumstances will be different in their own way. I’m just giving examples of the things I’ve done. The overall aim is to show that it’s important and worthwhile to try things that interest you and grasp opportunities when they arise, as you never know what will result from them. You may have to push yourself out of your comfort zone a bit, and I know that can be easier said than done. It was a challenge for me, and it still can be sometimes. But the more you try things, the more confident you’ll get, and you’ll soon start to reap the rewards of your efforts. Otherwise, you’ll always be asking yourself ‘what if’, which is never helpful.

So I hope you enjoy reading this. Thank you to Sue Ricketts and the Nystagmus Network for asking me to share my story at the Open Day, and to all those who responded to it so well.

Continue reading “Building My New Social Network With A Visual Impairment”

Speaking at the Nystagmus Network Open Day

On Saturday, I attended the Nystagmus Network‘s Open Day in Birmingham, the first time I’ve ever been to an event of this nature. The only time I’ve previously met a group who share one of my eye conditions was after Sight Village last year, when I got together with a handful of people with aniridia in a coffee shop. And that was wonderful, but this weekend’s event was on a much bigger scale. This time, I was going to a big conference for people with nystagmus with hundreds of people in attendance. And I was very much looking forward to.

However, I was also nervous, because I had been invited to be one of the speakers – making this the first time I would ever give a talk in public about myself. I wrote in my last post about how this came about, and how I prepared for it. So now I want to tell you about the day itself and how it went.

Continue reading “Speaking at the Nystagmus Network Open Day”