IF you see a group of people, some of them blind, paddling their way up the Chesterfield canal in canoes, don’t be alarmed.
It’s just one of the novel ways a new group is raising cash for guide dogs for the blind.
And if you think blind canoeing is challenging, how about doing a blind big air jump?
Steve Bowles, 40, of Garside Street, Worksop, lost his sight suddenly five years ago.
He is now getting involved in all sorts of unlikely fundraising situations alongside friend Eddie Parry from Ambleside Walk, Anston.
Steve said: “The big air jump is like abseiling off a giant swing. We’re going to be doing it in Millersdale in the Peak District.”
“The canoe paddle is going to be from the Trent to Retford on the canal and then back down the Idle.”
“Last year we did 32 miles from Chesterfield to the Trent, carrying the canoes around the locks.”
“I won’t let being blind stop me from doing things.”
It was after having surgery for glaucoma, which went fine, that Steve suffered a massive haemorrhage behind both of his eyes.
It damaged his optic nerves and left him blind.
“It took me a good couple of years to come to terms with it. It’s meant a lot of adjusting and adapting,” he said.
“Getting a guide dog has helped me to get my confidence back.”
Steve, who is married, was introduced to Golden Retriever May three years ago and they bonded straight away.
“She’s a great dog. I walk everywhere and if I tell her where we are going she will remember the route,” he said.
“A 20-minute walk for a guide dog is like a two-hour walk for a normal dog because they have to be so alert the whole time.”
“Sunday is her day off, that’s her day for just doing what she wants.”
Steve got involved in Worksop Guide Dogs for the Blind after meeting Eddie last April.
Eddie, 65, wanted to do some charity work when he retired from his management job in the minerals and lime industry after having a heart attack.
He decided to organise a zumbathon at North Notts Arena to raise money for guide dogs for the blind.
“I’ve got a false knee but I took part in a dog suit and that was where I met Steve,” said Eddie.
The two of them decided to start organising different events and have built up a small but enthusiastic group of nine volunteers.
“One of our members is Peter Jones who is blind and who was an X-Factor finalist from the first series,” said Eddie.
“He has done fundraising concerts for us, helped by his wife Kim who is also blind and has a guide dog.”
Steve is planning to complete a 100-mile walk from Worksop to the guide dogs’ charity head office in Leamington Spa this year.
Other events the pair have in the pipeline include the Coniston Challenge in the Lake District and blind kickboxing in Nottingham.
New volunteers are always welcome, or supporters who just want to take part in a particular challenge.
Eddie and Steve are available to give talks about guide dogs and are also keen to promote them in schools.
For more information, call Eddie Parry on 07896 165073.