90-year old's blind leap for charity

Most people would celebrate their 90th birthday with a nice piece of cake, but not retired teacher John Hallett who has spent many years helping and encouraging teachers working in schools often in war-torn countries like Kosovo, Liberia and Iraq. Despite losing most of his eye sight and his hearing, John is planning to leap 13,500 feet from an aeroplane on Saturday 2nd September to raise money for My Sight Notts - the charity that helped him when his sight failed.

“I’ve worked in some very scary places in my long career in education,” says John, “but nothing prepared me for the devastating and life-changing challenges of going blind. My Sight Notts was there to pick up the pieces and help me get back on my feet – I’m hoping there won’t be any broken pieces of me to pick up after my sponsored sky dive, just lots of cash for a great local charity!

Want to feel useful

“I’ve always led a very active life and it’s essential for me to feel useful and to contribute to society through my work in education both in this country and overseas. When I started to notice my eye sight deteriorating to the point where I could no longer see to read and write or travel independently it was a real blow, leading to feelings of frustration at not being able to contribute any longer”

I'd planned to write more books and when my sight failed I felt crushed

During what to some people would be classed as a colourful career John has worked in 17 different countries and published several books and he had hoped to spend his remaining years writing more books about education. When he was diagnosed with Age Related Macular Disease at the age of 86 it seemed his plans had been crushed.

“How could I research and write more books when my eye sight was so poor that it took me 30 minutes just to write a short email?, “said John. “You might say that I’d had a long and interesting life and at 86 it was time to take it easy, but my mind was still active and I needed to feel useful. During this time I was fortunate to be put in touch with local charity My Sight Notts, which helped me enormously.”

I wanted to help the charity that helped me so much!

My Sight Notts provided John with advice about computer access software that helped him see his computer screen, magnification aids to help with reading, better lighting and sticky labels to go over his computer keys so that he could see them more easily.

“I slowly began to feel connected again! I was also encouraged to get more involved with the charity and to meet others going through the same difficulties as me. I’ve begun volunteering and sharing my experiences of sight loss with others, which is helping me feel that I’m making a small contribution.”

“The charity does a cracking job and leaping out of an aeroplane to raise money for them is my way of giving something back as a big thank you for all the help they’ve given me.

Scared but excited

“Of course I’m terrified of jumping from the plane and taking that leap into the unknown, but my grandson who lost some of his hearing while serving in Afghanistan will be jumping with me and, looking on the bright side at least I can’t see how far up I am or how far down the ground is! After a lifetime of risk taking to help others, what better way to mark my 90th birthday could there be?”

John's JustGiving page

If you'd like to support brave John's leap for our charity please visit his JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/account/your-pages/John-Hallett1?pageId=10275102

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