Brentwood blind marathon runner calls for better support following PC Rathband death
The tragic death of PC David Rathband has brought back memories for physiotherapist Mike Conyers who was blinded in a freak cricketing accident.
The 58-year-old, of Brentwood, was just 12 when a ball hit him in the forehead so hard that it detached the retinas in his eyes.
Counsellors were largely unheard of at the time and Mike, from Yorkshire, was sent to a school for the blind in Sheffield and told to get on with it.
“They gave you a radio, a white stick and sent you on your way. It was practical, not emotional support,” says the father-of-two.
“In the case of David Rathband, it’s quite clear that he didn’t have the support he needed. He should never have been living on his own.
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“For those who have been blind since birth, there isn’t that same realisation of the shock it causes – the need for readjustment.”
His comments follow the death of PC Rathband who was found hanged at his home last month. He was blinded after being shot by fugitive gunman Raoul Moat in July 2010.
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Mike, who works at Crushes Manor Clinic in Ongar Road, admits that losing his sight as a youngster may have been an easier adjustment than as an adult.
Although he had to relearn his education from scratch, there was also a sense of camaraderie with the other children.
Mike’s blindness doesn’t appear to have held him back.
The former Brentwood Rotary Club president was superintendent of the Brentwood District Hospital physiotherapy department and has completed four half-marathons.
Now he is gearing up for his latest challenge – the London Marathon.
Attached by a wrist strap to coach Steve Rich, from Brentwood’s Thrift Green Trotters, Mike will be run the 26-mile course for the charity Special Needs and Parents (SNAP).
Mike has already raised �6,000 for the charity in past events and his incredible dedication is now literally something to toast.
Brentwood Brewing Company has launched a new beer called Mike’s Marathon with proceeds going to SNAP.
n To sponsor Mike, visit www.justgiving.com/Mike ConyorsTheLondonMarathon. To order Mike’s Marathon beer, call 01277 375577.