Blind Carrickfergus runner shorlisted for RNIB UK award

Tony Barclay, from Carrick, is up for an award for starting VI Runners and Guide Runners
Tony Barclay, from Carrick, is up for an award for starting VI Runners and Guide Runners

A Carrickfergus man has been shortlisted for an RNIB See Differently Award for encouraging others with sight loss to take up running.

Tony Barclay, who lost his sight after being diagnosed with a brain tumour, is a contender in the Community Contributor of the Year category, which recognises an individual who has had a life changing impact on their community.

Tony, 60, got back into running 20 years after losing his sight, with the assistance of a guide runner, and within months was taking part in running events.

Having learnt the importance of guide runners and knowing the benefits of running on his health and wellbeing, Tony set out on a mission to not only encourage sighted people to become guide runners, but to also support others with sight loss to take up the sport.

He created VI Runners and Guide Runners NI. The group aims to train anyone with an interest in guide running, and provides a matching service to anyone living in Northern Ireland who has sight loss and is interested in running or seeking the assistance of a guide runner.

Tony, who sits on RNIB NI’s Network Committee, also organised the first ‘Running Blind’ challenge in 2016. The event, in which participants are paired with a guide runner whilst one wears a blindfold, now takes place on an annual basis and has raised over £6,000 for charities.

Tony said: “I was completely shocked to find out I’d been shortlisted for a See Differently Award. I hope my story inspires others and encourages them to get out there, live life and try something new.”

The awards, which will take place at the Glaziers Hall, London Bridge on November 26, shine a spotlight on the excellent work happening every day across the UK to support people with sight loss.

Matt Stringer, CEO RNIB, said: “The RNIB See Differently Awards will celebrate those who dedicate their time, passion and skills to changing the world for blind and partially sighted people.

“Our shortlisted national finalists are all fantastic and we wish them the best of luck.”