11 April 2018
Source: RNIB Scotland
East Lothian man John Playfair hopes to raise money for research into the eye condition that is robbing him of his sight by racing a rally car blindfolded.
John (61) has completed a daring lap of the circuit at Knockhill race circuit in Fife today [Wednesday, April 11th] with his vision completely obscured, guided around the track by his daughter Sarah in the same car.
“I found today’s blindfolded lap exciting and exhilarating,” he says. “Although at times terrifying, my daughter Sarah did a tremendous job keeping me on the straight and narrow (and on the black stuff!). I’ve also been told we beat the previous Blind Lap Record so that’s a nice bonus.
“This challenge was unusual but with my interest in motor sport it’s something it was something I was keen to find out if it was possible and what standard I can achieve.”
The reason he took this on is because he has an eye condition known as Late Onset Retinal Degeneration.
“It is a genetic condition that leads to loss of sight in later life,” John explains. “It can be passed from one generation to the next and I am keen to raise awareness and funds to assist ongoing research into the condition. Tremendous advances have been made but more could be achieved with more funding for research into treatment options.
“Currently, I am registered as partially sighted. I have difficulty watching television, while reading small-print is almost impossible unless I have intense light.
“Although this condition is not life-threatening, it is hugely life-changing. There needs to be a considerable change in lifestyle in order to achieve day-to-day tasks and get things done for yourself.”
John first developed an interest in motorsports at college and took part in road rallies, then moved onto stage rallying. Latterly, he regained his interest, along with daughters Sarah and Linda.
“Both girls had a talent for racing and this led to me giving up racing to concentrate on acting as mechanic for the girls as they went on to race at national and international levels,” he says.
John, who lives in Longniddry, has already undertaken a similar challenge at the Raceland centre in East Lothian in early February. “I raced a go-cart followed by Linda, who was in radio contact with me. She guided me round the lap while I was completely blindfolded.”
John hopes that members of the public will help him raise funds for vital research into Late Onset Retinal Degeneration by guessing, for a small fee, the lap-time he achieved today, added to the lap-time set at Raceland. Prizes will be given to those who guess the total time taken.
Prizes will include tickets to one of the race meetings at Knockhill, tickets to the Highland Show, goodies from New Life Tyres, and a voucher from Garden Solutions.
John’s JustGiving page
For further information, please contact Ian Brown at RNIB Scotland on 0131 652 3164 or 07918 053 952.