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Community / Couple to take on West Highland Way to raise money for sight loss charity after family diagnosis

Shannon and Patrick on Ben Ledi in preparation for the trek.

A LOCAL couple are set to head off on a fundraising 96-mile trek along the West Highland Way later this month to raise money for a charity close to their heart.

Shannon Hughson’s brother-in-law was recently diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disorder which causes progressive vision loss.

Alongside her partner Patrick, she will set off on the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Fort William in mid-May to raise money for the charity Retina UK.

The whole trek is expected to take around a week to complete, with the pair due to walk around 10 to 19 miles each day.

They will be camping overnight during the walk.

More than £2,000 has already been raised so far, which is well above the initial target.

Retina UK supports people affected by inherited progressive sight loss and invests in medical research to ensure that those affected can lead a fulfilling life.

Shannon explained that her brother-in-law now only has 25 per cent of his peripheral vision and is no longer able to drive at night.

“For years he suffered with poor night vision and his peripheral vision was reducing too, which eventually led to his diagnosis,” she said.

“Retinitis pigmentosa currently has no cure and the disorder is already significantly impacting my brother-in-law’s life, and that of his wife and three bairns.

“It’s not something they expected to be dealing with, he’s a joiner and is currently renovating a house for his family to move into. He’s done an amazing job so far, but the disorder has made things more difficult for him.

“It took a few years to realise there was an issue with his vision because of the vague symptoms – his night vision was worse than those around him and he would often trip over items on the floor – he just thought he was clumsy, but it was eventually discovered it was due to blind spots developing in his vision.”

Shannon added that there have been recent developments in gene therapy to treat other similar sight loss disorders, “so it would be great if the same progress could be made for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa”.

The couple have done a few one-day hikes before, but the West Highland Way will be their first multi-day venture.

The money raised so far has smashed the initial target of £400.

“It would be amazing if we could double our amount and reach £4,000, although we are delighted with how much has been donated to Retina UK so far,” Shannon said.

To donate to the fundraiser, visit this link.