A blind woman is parting herself from her trusty guide dog to embark on a five-day challenge of a lifetime in Iceland.
Kawal Gucukoglu (47) will explore a ‘smoke valley’ in Reykjadalur, take a dip in some hot springs and enjoy a well-earned overnight stay in Reykjavik as part of a team from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Kawal, of Hampton Court, Westwood, will leave her faithful guide dog companion Ursa behind in October as she seeks to raise money for the charity which has continually supported her during her life.
And the transcription executive at RNIB’s Peterborough offices in Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, is hoping to reach her target of £2,450 from the trek.
She said: “I like challenges but I’ve never done anything like this before. I have a treadmill at home so I use it all the time and keep myself fit.
“I do like walking and it keeps my dog out of mischief.
“I’m going to be wondering how she is. In four years we’ve never been apart for this long.
“I’m looking forward to the experience - I’ve never been to Iceland before.”
Kawal’s trip will involve 18 hours of trekking and the money she raises will be used to help and educate as many children as possible through RNIB’s Talking Books and Braille Library.
Her passion for reading came from a young age, and because of the way braille books are read (using a system of raised dots that can be read with fingers) she enjoyed an advantage over her brother as she did not need to have a light on to read.
This meant that when her parents told them to stop reading, Kawal could continue while her brother had to turn his light off and go to sleep.
Kawal added: “I want to raise money for the RNIB and give something back. They’ve looked after me and it’s my time to look after them.
“I want to raise money to get more books for children. It’s important for them to get braille books and to get educated. I could not have done without it.”
RNIB’s area fundraising manager for East Anglia, Claire Coupland, said: “As an organisation we are really proud of her. I close my eyes for two minutes and try and imagine how her world is.
“She’s very very brave and I think it’s really inspirational. I think she will do an amazing job and I know she’s prepared for it. We hope to follow her via social media one way or the other as an organisation.”
Team RNIB are looking for more trekkers, both sighted and people with sight loss, to join them on the challenge and raise money to support people living with sight loss in the UK.
The Iceland Trek Launch is at the Marriott at Peterborough Business Park, Lynch Wood, on February 4 from 6pm-8pm. To attend an open evening email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0345 345 0054. To register for the trek visit rnib.org.uk/icelandtrek.