Dads use pedal power to help charity educate children about sight loss

Pete and Lee

Two dads are to embark on a gruelling cycle ride around Hampshire to raise money for a charity that helps educate children about sight loss and identifies their sight problems earlier.

Pete Ross and Lee Goosey, both from Southampton who have been cycling together for two years, will begin their county-wide cycle ride on Saturday 11 August and aim to cover around 70 miles a day, so they complete the route by Tuesday 14 August. 

They are aiming to raise £6,000 to fund the Eye Health Education scheme, run by Open Sight Hampshire, which helps schools identify children who could need treatment for sight conditions as well as educating children about sight loss. The scheme informs children about the importance of protecting eyes from the sun, having regular eye tests, eating vegetables and exercising regularly as well as the detrimental effects of smoking.

Around one in four children start school with an undetected sight condition, which may be detrimental to their ability to learn.  Parents often don’t get children’s sight tested until symptoms start to appear.

The money raised by Pete and Lee through the 250-mile cycle ride will help Open Sight Hampshire, which is based in Eastleigh, to deliver the scheme to more than 12,000 children and their families at 48 schools across Hampshire.

Terry Smith, Community Development Manager, runs the scheme and is visually impaired. He said: “This scheme helps so many families understand and become more informed about what sort of eye conditions can affect children at a really critical time in their lives. Last year we spoke to 6,000 pupils and this year we want to double it. Without the support of Pete and Lee, we wouldn’t be able to talk to the thousands of children across Hampshire who may need support.”

Both Pete and Lee wear glasses so understand the importance of having regular eye tests and check-ups. The inspiration for the cycle challenge came from a student at Valentine Primary School, where Pete works, who showed courage and determination when dealing with their visual impairment.   

Pete said: “Living with a sight condition, no matter what type, can be a challenge so it is important to get it identified early. The training has gone very well, and we are looking forward to getting started. It’s going to be quite a challenge but it’s worth the effort to raise awareness and encourage children to look after their sight.”

Lee added: “We’ve done the training and now it’s all about completing our mission. We really hope people get behind us and support this really worthy cause.”

Pete and Lee will set off from the Open Sight Hampshire office in Church Road, Bishopstoke, on Saturday 11 August at 7.30am and their first stop will be in Liphook. From Liphook they will cycle to Highclere and then to Fordingbridge before returning to Eastleigh where they will be met at the bandstand by family, friends and the Mayor of Eastleigh at 3pm on Tuesday 14 August.

Anyone wishing to donate can do so by calling the Open Sight Hampshire office on 02380 641244 or visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hampshirecycling  People can also donate £1 by texting CCOS18 £1 to 70070.

You can follow the cyclist progress on the Open Sight Hampshire Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Open.Sight.Org/