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Caerphilly mum takes on marathon challenge

Emma Arnold

A mum of two from Cefn Hengoed is taking on a fundraising challenge with a difference to support blind and partially sighted people in Wales.

Emma Arnold, 33, will be taking part in sight loss charity RNIB’s Marathon Mates. The virtual fundraiser calls on people to pair up with a friend, partner, housemate or family member and split the distance of a marathon (26.2 miles) during the month of May.

Inspired by the way many people with sight loss run with a guide runner, participants can choose to run, walk, jog or skip the distance in their own time and at their own pace.

The challenge supports a cause close to Emma’s heart. 15 years ago, she started to notice black spots in her right eye that got progressively worse. At the University Hospital of Wales Eye Clinic Emma was told that she had experienced a blood clot at the back of her eye, and that her sight could not be saved.

Emma said: “I was devastated. I had just completed my A levels and passed my driving test, then everything was turned upside down. Things got even worse when I woke up one night in excruciating pain. I was rushed to hospital where I was told that the pressure in my eye was 58 – the normal range is around 20. I now have no sight at all in my right eye.

“I definitely went through a grieving process. I became very depressed, and at my darkest times contemplated ending my life. Thankfully I have very supportive family and friends who helped me through. I also called the RNIB Helpline – they sent someone out to talk to me and it helped so much. That’s why I’m taking on the Marathon Mates challenge. I want more people to have access to this same crucial help.”

Emma is a novice runner and will be running half a mile every day throughout May with her friend and colleague Nadine Borja. Together they hope to raise £150 for the charity.

RNIB Cymru Director Ansley Workman said: “The last year has been particularly challenging for blind and partially sighted people. Taking part in Marathon Mates will help to raise vital funds for RNIB to provide support and advice to the 121,000 people living with sight loss in Wales. No one should have to face their sight loss journey alone.

“We’re delighted that Emma and Nadine are taking on the challenge. We will support them every step of the way and wish them the best of luck.”

To find out more and register to take part, visit https://marathonmates.rnib.org.uk.