Archive for the ‘Deafblind Scotland’ Category

Deafblind man to climb Ben Nevis

12th July, 2011 by admin

Michael Anderson with Ferris

70-year-old Michael Anderson will be scaling new heights when he climbs Ben Nevis on Thursday, July 21st.

It is understood he will be the first fully blind and severely deaf man to scale Britain’s highest mountain, which stands at 1344 metres.

And it’s all in a bid to raise £3,000 for Deafblind Scotland’s new ‘Field of Dreams’ Scottish training and resource centre in Kirkintilloch. It will serve 5000 deafblind people across Scotland.

Father-of-three Michael, who lives in Larbert, was born with a hearing impairment and was registered blind at age 33.

Having already raised £2000 for Deafblind Scotland, of which he is also vice chairman, this climb will be Michael’s biggest and most complex challenge yet.

Despite breaking his thighbone 18 months ago, he has been training for the 16-hour ascent since March by climbing smaller mountains including Ben Lomond and Dumyat.

On the day, Michael will be guided up the Munro by a number of volunteers, all led by experienced mountain guide Lucy Wallace. Also sharing the challenge will be Michael’s daughter Fiona and her partner who have worked hard to gather the team together and to fundraise.

Michael said: “I really want a new training and resource centre to happen and I knew that I had to show that by doing a big challenge. And this is the Big One. I’m feeling a bit of trepidation and am really hoping that my gammy leg will hold up to get me to the top.”

Drena O’Malley, Resources Manager for the charity, said: “Michael is an inspiration to us all. It will probably take 16-18 hours to complete this climb, which is a major challenge for someone half his age. We’re incredibly grateful for his fantastic fundraising efforts.”

You can support Michael’s challenge on and read his blog on

Notes to editor
• Michael was born in Surrey and lived most of his life in Berwick. He moved to Larbert in 2001
• Michael’s wife of 34 years, Betty, sadly died in 2004. Their three children are David (40), Fiona (38) and Iain (29) and he has three grandchildren
• Michael is a founder member of Deafblind Scotland

For further information: Jenny Kumar on 07989 557198/ OR Drena O’Malley on 07774 192659.

Deafblind Scotland – – is an association for dual sensory impaired adults. Our vision is of a society where deafblind people have the permanent support and recognition necessary to be equal citizens.

Lord Provost welcomes deaf cyclists home to Glasgow

16th June, 2011 by admin

Bob & Louise Nolan with Lord Provost Bob Winter at Glasgow's George Sq

Bob Nolan, a deafblind cyclist, and his deaf wife Louise were cheered into Glasgow’s George Square by the City’s Lord Provost on the final leg of their marathon charity tandem challenge covering 1000 miles and 23 Scottish Islands today (Thursday, June 16th 2011).

The dynamic duo undertook this epic journey to raise £20,000 for Deafblind Scotland’s “Field of Dreams” project to build a national training and resource centre for deafblind people.

Team Nolan arrived into George’s Square with a party of supporters, including their son Josh (16), riding tandems, bicycles and were met by Lord Provost Bob Winter and Deafblind Scotland members.

Bob (53) and Louise (47) then cycled onto Lenzie to the site of the charity’s proposed new centre, where a life-size layout of the building was marked out in a tactile manner for deafblind people to be guided around it for their input.

This is understood to be the first time that architects have produced a physical form of a building for people who are not able to access drawings.

The charity’s chairman and father of three, Bob was born deaf and is now registered blind. The couple, who met at school, set off on June 2nd from Unst in the Shetland Islands and pedaled through the Orkney Islands, Lewis, Uist, Harris, Barra, Skye, Mull, Iona, Jura, Islay and Arran – in all 23 islands, catching 19 ferries and using 12 causeways along the way.

They were supported by Deafblind Scotland staff and Bikewise, Kirkintilloch.

Bob said: “It’s been a great experience, meeting charity members, fellow deaf people and local supporters, many of whom have kindly given us donations, free accommodation or meals. We’ve battled through a real mix of weather – losing our lip reading mirror in one of the gales – and caught ferries by the skin of our teeth.

“I really hope this challenge encourages others to achieve their own personal goals. Yes, it’s hard work but the feeling of satisfaction at the end makes it totally worthwhile. I’d also appeal to people to show their support for the charity that does so much to help the 5000 deafblind people in Scotland through what is often a uniquely isolating condition.”

Drena O’Malley, Resources Manager at the charity, said: “Watching Bob and Louise cycle through blizzard conditions and battle up huge hills at a mere 2mph, I’ve been inspired by their dogged determination. The size of this challenge isn’t to be underestimated and it’s great to see the awareness raised for our “Field of Dreams” project all over Scotland.”

Read Bob’s blog at or donate at
For further information: Jenny Kumar on 07989 557198 / OR Drena O’Malley on 07774 192659.

Deafblind Scotland – – is an association for dual sensory impaired adults. Our vision is of a society where deafblind people have the permanent support and recognition necessary to be equal citizens.

Deafblind duo gear up for Scottish Islands Tandem Challenge

20th May, 2011 by admin

Bob and Louise Nolan on their trusty tandem

A deafblind couple are gearing up for a challenging and inspirational 1000-mile tandem ride through 22 Scottish Islands to raise vital funds for charity.

On Thursday, June 2nd 2011, Bob Nolan (53) who was born deaf and has gradually become blind will take on this incredible challenge with his wife Louise (47) who is profoundly deaf.

The intrepid duo, who live in Aberdeen, will begin their 15-day journey from Unst in the Shetland Islands, pedalling 1000 miles through the Orkney Islands, the Outer Hebrides, the Western Isles and Arran – catching 17 ferries along the way – before finishing in Glasgow’s George Square on June 16th 2011.

Bob’s dream is to raise a massive £20,000 towards helping Lenzie-based charity Deafblind Scotland create a new, national, custom-built training and resource centre for deafblind people. The £1.4million ‘Field of Dreams’ building will offer a place where deafblind people in Scotland can be enabled to reach their full potential.

Father-of-three Bob, who has Usher Syndrome, is also determined to see the Scottish Islands while he still has some useful tunnel vision. He said: “I wanted do something that was challenging, essentially Scottish and, most of all, exciting. We’ve been training hard for months, cycling 26 miles one night a week as well as an all-day ride at the weekend.

“Because I have such narrow central vision, when I’m on the bike the close scenery always appears to be rushing by and I can feel out of control. If we’re cycling directly towards the sun I cannot see at all and am completely reliant on Louise. On the upside, in the right light, I can look around and admire the scenery a long way away.”

The amazing challenge is a real family affair. Bob will provide the pedal power from the back of the tandem while Louise will do all the navigating, steering and gear changing. Son Josh (16) will set the pace. Bob’s brother-in-law, Scott Greenhalgh, will also join the family for five days from John O’Groats to Barra.

Two Deafblind Scotland volunteers will also support Team Nolan throughout the challenge and a number of friends will accompany them for different legs of the journey.

The biggest test for the pair will be communicating, which they do by lip-reading in a rear-view mirror attached to the handlebars. Given their combined sensory impairments, this will be a remarkable achievement, needing great determination, stamina and resilience and will, Bob hopes, inspire other deafblind people across Scotland to achieve their own personal goals.

Bob, who has been chair of the charity’s Board since 2001 and works full-time as an IT Manager for Shell, said: “Apart from a great family and network of friends who support me, I’ve been blessed with a positive outlook and an appetite for life. If I can encourage other deafblind people to take up a challenge of their own and get the feeling of achievement that it brings I’ll be well satisfied.

He added: “While this is a personal challenge and a great adventure for me, I’m also doing it for the 5000 deafblind people in Scotland, many of whom face much more difficult circumstances than me and who deserve so much more.”

Drena O’Malley, Deafblind Scotland’s Resources Officer, who will provide vital support to Bob and Louise throughout the challenge with her husband Hammy, said: “Bob’s determination to keep taking on challenges and to keep achieving, despite his difficulties, is inspirational to us all. It’s a pleasure to be able to support him in his latest challenge. Let’s hope the midges are on our side!”

To follow Bob and Louise’s progress, including route maps, visit their blog at

To donate, visit Bob’s Justgiving page on


Thurs 2 June: Underhoull – Haroldwick – Belmont – Gutcher – Ulsta – Toft – Scalloway
Fri 3 June: Scalloway – St Ninian – Sumburgh – Lerwick – Kirkwall
Sat 4 June: Kirkwall – Costa – Brockan – Stromness – St Margaret Hope – Burwick – John O’Groats
Sun 5 June: Thurso – Bettyhill – Tongue – Durness
Mon 6 June: Durness – Ullapool – Stornoway
Tue 7 June: Butt of Lewis – Dail Beg – Callanish – Stornoway – Tarbet
Wed 8 June: Tarbet – Leverburgh; Berneray – Lochmaddy – Lochboisdale
Thur 9 June: Barra Circuit – Vatersay – Castlebay; Eriskay – Lochboisdale – Uig
Fri 10 June: Uig – Old Man of Storr – Portree – Broadford – Armadale – Mallaig
Sat 11 June: Mallaig – Kilchoan – Tobermory
Sun 12 June: Tobermory – Craignure – Iona – Oban
Mon 13 June: Oban – Lochgilphead – Kennacraig – Port Askaig
Tue 14 June: Inverlussa (Jura) – Feolin Ferry; Port Askaig – Bowman – Port Ellen – Tarbet
Wed 15 June: Claonaig – Lochranza – Blackwaterfoot – Kildonan – Lamlash – Brodick
Thur 16 June: Ardrossan – Glasgow (George Sq) – Lenzie (DBS HQ)


For further information: Jenny Kumar on 07989 557198 or OR Drena O’Malley on 07774 192659.

• Bob and Louise starting tandem cycling in 2007 for Bob’s 50th birthday challenge, riding from Lands End to John O’Groats in 2008 and raising £35,000 for Deafblind Scotland.

Deafblind Scotland (DBS) –
• DBS is an association for dual sensory impaired adults. Our vision is of a society where deafblind people have the permanent support and recognition necessary to be equal citizens.
• There are 5,000 deafblind adults in Scotland who all have difficulty accessing the simplest of information.
• DBS ensures they have meaningful contact with the world, providing everything from football scores to bus timetables in alternative formats and by providing one to one communication and guiding support to deafblind people living alone in the community.

Dare to take the deafblind challenge

11th May, 2011 by admin

John Smith with DBS guide/communicator Julie Burton

Deafblind Scot, John Smith, is encouraging everyone to get out and about on Saturday 14th May and take part in a walking challenge with a difference in Strathclyde Park.

Participants in the ‘Just Try It’ Challenge will – for a limited time only – experience the world as a deafblind person by donning a blindfold and earmuffs to deaden their senses while undertaking a 10k course around the Park with the help of a guide to keep them safe.

While the route is mostly flat, more adventurous participants can choose to do an optional extra thrill at the end of the walk, which will be revealed on the day.

Now in its fourth year, the event is organised by Lenzie-based charity Deafblind Scotland in order to raise money and heighten awareness to support their vital work with dual sensory impaired adults.

Strathclyde Park offers fun for all the family, with amusements, rides, cycling, cafes and watersports all within yards of the entrance.

Deafblind Scotland member, Mr Smith (67), who lives in Hamilton, became deafblind seven years ago and also suffers from heart problems and asthma has taken part in the event since it began in 2007. His nine-year-old guide dog, Rocky will accompany him around the course.

He said: “The event is a great chance for people to just get out there, make friends and do as much as they can. I don’t think there’s enough awareness about the needs of deafblind people so people should just have a go and they’ll start to appreciate the daily challenges that people like me face and the level of support that we require.”

Drena O’Malley, Deafblind Scotland’s Resources Manager, said: “This is an event for everyone and a fun day out too, so help spread the word, bring your friends and family and get sponsored per minute or for every mile you manage to keep the blindfold and earmuffs on. You could even share the experience of sensory loss by swapping with your guide halfway around the course.

“It’s great to see that local schools have signed up for the challenge and I’d encourage other schools and businesses to get involved as a totally different teambuilding experience.

“People might think it’s not that daring to be deprived of your senses, but just try it for an afternoon. It’s an unforgettable experience – guaranteed.”

‘Just Try It’ is open to adults and children – who must be accompanied by a parent – and costs £20 per pair to enter.

The challenge starts at 1.30pm. To take part in the experience or to make a donation, visit

Participants can also sign up on the day at the Piper Alpha memorial near the Boathouse in the Park, before 1.15pm.

For further information: Jenny Kumar on 07989 557198 or

Deafblind Scotland is an association for deafblind and dual sensory impaired adults. Our vision is of a society where deafblind people have the permanent support and recognition necessary to be equal citizens.

Pupils get hands on about deafblindness

30th March, 2011 by admin

John Whitfield delivering deafblind awareness training

Young people at Carnoustie High School recently got to grips with the daily challenges of a deafblind person.

Led by John Whitfield from charity Deafblind Scotland with deafblind volunteers Fiona Linton and Wilma McCabe, the training aims to promote awareness of the condition as part of the “Touching Lives – Across the Generations” project, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Dual sensory impairment is a uniquely isolating condition that affects more than 5,000 people in Scotland.

The S4 pupils learned first-hand what it is like to be deaf and blind with the aid of simulation glasses that replicate tunnel and peripheral vision.

They were also taught how to use Deafblind Manual, a tactile communication method using ‘fingerspelling’ delivered onto the hand of the deafblind individual.

At the forefront of the initiative are deafblind volunteers over the age of 50, who are fully trained and supported and have developed the necessary skills to deliver the awareness training to the younger generation at schools and community groups.

Now in its final year, the project has delivered deafblind awareness training to more than 10,000 pupils at 115 schools across the length and breadth of Scotland. In addition, scores of adult groups in the community have learned a vital skill, which may well prove useful in later years.

It has also boosted the confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing of the deafblind trainers. Fiona Linton, who hails from Dundee, said: “The obvious enthusiasm and enjoyment from the pupils was incredibly warming. Young people really are the future when it comes to breaking down the stereotypes of deafblindness. It’s vitally important that we show them that we are people, not labels and teach them how to reach out to dual sensory impaired people – of all ages.”

Deafblind Scotland Project Manager John Whitfield, who is himself deaf and blind, said: “Our ultimate aim is to transform the lives of our trainers so they can fully participate in life. We’d like to see dual sensory impaired people working in the public domain as trainers for a range of organisations and to actively shape their own future by being able to participate in local decision-making processes, such as consultation and planning meetings.”

Gill Baxter, Teacher for the Deaf at Carnoustie High School, said: “The deafblind awareness training is having such a positive impact on the pupils and staff, giving us lots to talk and think about. It ties in perfectly with our Curriculum for Excellence programme as it helps to educate our pupils about citizenship as well as developing their awareness, understanding and respect for others in our community who have dual sensory impairment.”

The training is free to schools and community groups and can be arranged by contacting Deafblind Scotland at You can also email or call 0141 777 6111.