Birmingham man who is deafblind to take on 52 mile trek

A Birmingham man, who is deafblind, will attempt to complete an epic 52 mile trek in the summer, walking the distance of the RidgeWay, a historic national trail in the South of England, helping to raise money for the national disability charity, Sense.

44 year-old John Churcher, from Erdington, has a hearing impairment and only 3% vision. His friend, 49-year-old Mark McGowan, from Glasgow, will be John’s sight-guide for the walk, assisted by Jay Owen (27) who is autistic.

John, who has Usher Syndrome, is no stranger to great feats. Over the last decade he has become an accomplished climber, competing at the Paraclimbing World Championships, and being recognised as the first blind person to climb to the summit of the Eiger.

John Churcher, a trustee for Deafblind UK, said: “I’m really looking forward to the walk in the summer. I don’t feel nervous, only excitement about taking on another challenge.”

Mark McGowan, who has become friends with John through climbing, and acted as John’s sight-guide for the Eiger climb, said: “I had a great experience doing the RidgeWalk last year, so invited John along this time. I’m a little nervous, as sight guiding for 52 miles straight will be mentally, as well as physically, exhausting.”

The RidgeWalk begins at Barbury Castle, an Iron Age hill fort in Wiltshire, and will see John travel through the night, walking the oldest road in Britain, past landmarks such as the Uffington White Horse, before reaching the finish line at Field Farm in Watlington.

The RidgeWalk will take place on June 9 and 10.  If you are interested in participating please visit

To donate towards Mark and John’s challenge, please visit:

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