MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
Lynne Featherstone MP last week met up with local resident Joe Churcher who has a genetic eye disease, to hear of his plans for a challenging trek across Iceland’s volcanic interior in a bid to raise urgently needed funds for research into a cure.
The Hornsey resident is one of an eight-strong team of people with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) putting their limited vision to the test as they pick their way between spouting geysers, lava-filled chasms and the ash clouds that have of course become all too familiar here in the UK.
Damage to the retina caused by the faulty genes behind RP leads to a gradual loss of sight – first tunnel vision and night blindness and then difficulties with reading and seeing colours – sometimes combined with other symptoms such as profound deafness.
But with the help of fully-sighted guides – and the bonus of little darkness to cope with in “the land of the midnight sun” – Joe and his fellow trekkers are determined to complete the mission and help prevent future generations suffering the same problems.
As many as 20,000 people in the UK are affected by RP, which is one of the most significant causes of blindness in children and people of working age, but there is at present no known cure or proven treatment to stop the symptoms worsening with age.
Anyone who wants to sponsor Joe can do so by visiting: www.justgiving.com/Joe-Churcher.
Joe Churcher comments:
“Iceland’s been a bit of a dirty word in this country recently, what with the collapse of the banks and the ash clouds causing flight chaos but we’re hoping it will prove a winning location for people with RP, especially the millions who will inherit the condition in future,”
“My eye disorder causes me only relatively minor problems, but for many other sufferers, RP has a devastating effect on their everyday lives and I’m doing this for them.”
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“I am really chuffed to be backing Joe. RP is a really common eye disease, yet few people have heard of it.
“Having worked closely with local organisations that support blind and partially sighted residents, like the Haringey Phoenix group, who are also backing Joe, I know how life-changing and difficult having eye diseases like RP can be.
“Hats off to Joe for a fantastic awareness raising and fundraising effort, and try and avoid those spouting geysers!”