Bicker mum Celia’s challenge to follow West Highland Way for charity

  • Ongoing research to find cure for hereditary condition
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A mum-of-two from Bicker is taking the high road in Scotland for charity, despite being registered blind.

Celia Dawson (55) is to walk nearly 100 miles from Milngavie, north of Glasgow, to Fort William from August 20 to 26.

Known as the West Highland Way, the walk is in aid of the charity RP Fighting Blindness for which Celia hopes to raise at least £2,000 after she was diagnosed with the eye condition disease Retinitis Pigmentosis about 20 years ago.

Celia said: “I was very active as a child, joining Spalding District Riding Club where I did one-day eventing.

“But my eyesight was deteriorating and I was sent to a specialist who made the diagnosis when I was in my thirties.

“Although I have some field of vision, it’s like looking through a sheet of polythene so I can’t go anywhere without assistance.

I’m a little bit apprehensive about the walk because it’s a long way, but I’m looking forward to it as well

Celia Dawson, of Bicker

“Every quarter I get a newsletter from RP Fighting Blindness which organises different fundraising events and when I read about the West Highland Way hike, I decided to set myself a bit of a challenge.”

Celia is one in just 3,000 to 4,000 people affected by retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in the UK.

According to RP Fighting Blindness, the eye condition is inherited and leads to loss of vision before eventual loss of sight.

In its manual “Understanding RP”, the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) states that “sight loss is gradual and usually progresses over a period of many years”.

The cause of RP is “a fault in the genetic information passed down to you from a parent”, according to the RNIB, which results in the eye’s retinal cells ceasing to work and eventually dying.

There is no known cure or treatment for RP, although research into the genes which cause it is ongoing worldwide.

Celia, whose daughter Lizzie (26) went to Nepal as a volunteer with international development organisation Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) last summer, took part in a practice weekend trek in the Peak District at the weekend.

“I’m a little bit apprehensive about the walk because it’s a long way, but I’m looking forward to it as well.”

To sponsor Celia, visit