Kelly Barton from Southport and guide runner Mike Leatherbarrow will be raising funds for The Salvation Army's Strawberry Field in Liverpool

An inspirational Southport woman, who has been blind since birth, will be running this year’s London Marathon to raise vital funds for charity.

Kelly Barton, 43, who lives with her 14 year old son, has taken on the challenge of running the London Marathon to raise money for The Salvation Army and its new expression in Liverpool, Strawberry Field.

The centre houses Steps to Work; a programme that supports young adults with learning disabilities and other barriers to employment gain work.

Kelly, the volunteer co-ordinator at Strawberry Field, has been registered as blind since birth.

She said: “Some young people can face many barriers when it comes to gaining employment and I am someone who understands just how hard that can be.

“I am living proof that there should be no barriers to employment at all and everyone should be encouraged to see their potential and reach for their dreams.

 

Kelly Barton from Southport and guide runner Mike Leatherbarrow will be raising funds for The Salvation Army's Strawberry Field in Liverpool

Kelly Barton from Southport and guide runner Mike Leatherbarrow will be raising funds for The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field in Liverpool

“That’s why I am really passionate about the work that Strawberry Field does and why I want to raise money for such a worthwhile cause. I know that the Steps to Work programme can and will change young lives.”

With an initial target of £2,000, Kelly will run the 26.2 miles around the country’s capital on Sunday, April 26, with her guide runner, Mike Leatherbarrow.

Those with a visual impairment can run with a guide runner that assists them through either being tethered together or, in Kelly’s case, holding the arm, just below the elbow.

 

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Kelly said: “It is an amazing feeling to be able to run and to run fast. All my life I have gone around slowly and with such care; I have never had running experience before but now

I am supported by Mike who gives me the confidence to run and although it was daunting at first I’ll never stop.

“When you can’t see, you have to walk really carefully and you have a cane so I’m in control. But with a guide runner you have to put all your trust in them.

“Mike describes what is going on around me, and he’ll let me know the sites that we’ll pass and describe people running nearby so I really won’t be missing out on anything.”

 

Kelly Barton from Southport and guide runner Mike Leatherbarrow will be raising funds for The Salvation Army's Strawberry Field in Liverpool

Kelly Barton from Southport and guide runner Mike Leatherbarrow will be raising funds for The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field in Liverpool

 

Kelly uses brail, assistive technology, a long cane, people’s voices and familiar noises as just some of the ways to get about day to day and has worked at The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field expression since September 2017.

Kelly has participated in various runs since first taking up running at the age of 40. She took part in the London Marathon two years ago, in 2018, but had to walk a large proportion of the course, this year she is hoping to run the whole way.

She has also taken part in Southport’s weekly Park Run, which is five kilometres, as part of her training.

Kelly said: “If me taking part in the marathon gets just one person running or encourages people to think that they can get a job or that they can do anything then it would make me so happy; I want people to know that you can do it!”

Kelly’s training has now started and she will compete in a half marathon as part of her training.

To donate to Kelly’s fundraiser please visit www.justgiving.com/kelly-barton.

 

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