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Amanda reaches for the skies in new adventure

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A woman from Cashes Green who is losing her eyesight will take on the challenge of a wing walk next month.

Amanda Read began to lose her sight 22 years ago due to a rare genetic condition called Stargardt Disease, a form of macular dystrophy which affects her central vision.

Amanda said: “I was early 20s when I received my diagnosis, and I didn’t know back then, whether I wanted to start a family or not? I was just enjoying going out to gigs, and worried I would have to say goodbye to it all. I felt quite fearful about my future and became quite isolated”.

Amanda was introduced to The Macular Society, who she now works for as a Regional Manager. The charity was able to connect Amanda with other people with the same condition.

IMG 7912 | Amanda reaches for the skies in new adventure
Amanda Read with her guide dog, Darcy. Pic: Faye Hatcher.

“The experience brought me out of myself and made me realise it was just another chapter of my life, but it wasn’t the final chapter. But I knew life would never be the same again. You go through a grieving process, but you do reach an acceptance stage. When I was told I must stop driving, I had to re-learn how to do things. I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. I used to be a perfectionist, but I’ve put that behind me now!” 

It wasn’t long after her diagnosis that Amanda drew-up a bucket list of things she’d like to do before her eyesight deteriorated. So far Amanda has travelled the world, visited the Northern Lights, experienced a fire walk, performed a tandem skydive and ridden Europe’s biggest longest zip wire.

“Losing my eyesight has made me do things I wouldn’t have done before. If I was going to do anything, it may as well be interesting and impactful. Most of the time I’m really boring! I can’t be bothered to train for a marathon, so this seems like an easier thing for me to do and it’s an adrenaline rush!”

Amanda’s next big adventure is a wing walk on May 7th at Rendcomb Airfield, when she will be taking to the skies to raise money for the Stonehouse-based charity Hope for Tomorrow, a mobile cancer care service.

“I know lots of people affected by cancer. Travelling for cancer treatment takes so much out of you. This service makes such a difference to rural communities, like ours. I’ve had to raise £750 to do my wing walk, which I’ve smashed already! I’ve sold my old clarinet and my friends and family have all been so generous, but I’m hoping to fundraise even more money which will go straight to Hope for Tomorrow”. 

Amanda’s eight-year-old daughter Flo is desperate to join her mum on the wing walk, but she’ll be watching from the ground along with Amanda’s guide dog: “Darcy won’t be going up with me obviously, in her Biggles scarf! Paws firmly on the ground for her.”

Amanda said: “I feel quite nervous now it’s getting closer. On the positive, I will get a free dermabrasion, but I’m excited. I must remember not to smile, so I don’t get loads of flies in my teeth. I just need to enjoy the moment. When I’m up there, I’m going to record an audio description for some of my volunteers who won’t be able to see the wing walk.”

If you’d like to donate to Amanda’s justgiving page, go to Amanda Read is fundraising for Hope for Tomorrow (justgiving.com)

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