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Blind Thatcham resident ready to wing it

Sharon Smith took up the challenge to raise money for disabled charity Aerobility

Fiona Tomas

Fiona Tomas


01635 886639

Blind Thatcham resident ready to wing it

A BLIND woman from Thatcham is preparing to perform a wing walk on a bi-plane next week, in a bid to change perceptions about visually-impaired people and raise vital funds for a disabled charity.

Sharon Smith, who is severely sight-impaired, is readying herself for a 12-minute trip-of-a-lifetime at Rendcomb, near Cirencester, on Tuesday, May 15.

Rather than taking a comfy seat on the plane, Mrs Smith will climb aboard the top wing and complete a wing walk.

She has also asked, weather permitting, to complete a 360-degree mid-air twist and a nose-dive and climb.

It will see the 46-year-old stand on top of the plane, being strapped to a frame then being flown up to a height of approximately 1,500 feet at a speed of 120 miles an hour.

Mrs Smith lost her sight in 2002 as a result of type one diabetes.

Her illness has seen her undergo two pancreatic transplants and she has been confined to a wheelchair for 10 years.

In 2009, Mrs Smith’s body weight dropped to six-and-a-half stone following her second transplant, but she can now walk again.

Driven by her positive outlook on life, Mrs Smith is determined to complete the challenge in a bid to raise money for disabled charity Aerobility.

The Camberley-based charity offers disabled people of all ages, irrespective of their condition, the opportunity to sit in the pilot seat and fly an aeroplane.

Mrs Smith said: “Aerobility are just such a brilliant charity.

“It does not matter whatever your disability is, if you’re prepared to have a go and fly a plane, you can.”

As well as fundraising, Mrs Smith decided to take up the challenge in a bid to shatter stereotypical attitudes associated with those who are partially-sighted or blind.

Mrs Smith said: “You can get a lot of negativity being blind and I guess wing-walking a plane is an unexpected thing for a blind person to do.

“This is really about saying, ‘you can do it’.

“I’m really excited and not nervous at all.

“Even though you can’t see, I think I’ll kind of know I’ll be up there.

“I quite like heights too – as long as I’m safe.”

To donate to Mrs Smith’s cause, visit fundraisers/sharonsmith4  

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