Blind man treks 500 miles across Europe for charity

A man with sight loss has trekked five hundred miles across Europe to raise funds for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Richard Simpson, 61, from Greenwich took on the Camino de Santiago on April 1 and completed the challenge in 39 days, finishing on Monday.

The Camino de Santiago is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Spain, the Camino Francés path.

Mr Simpson began at St. Jean-Pied-du-Port, near Biarritz in France and walked all the way to Santiago in Spain unsupported, using his white cane to guide him.

Mr Simpson conquered the famous  pilgrimage alone (Richard Simpson)

Four years ago, Mr Simpson was registered blind after being diagnosed as severely sight impaired. 

He has since taken on several challenges to raise money for RNIB including the LEJOGLE (walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats), The London Loop, and more recently he kayaked 180 miles from Lechlade-on-Thames to Greenwich.

Richard said: “The Camino de Santiago has been on my bucket list for a while. I’ve completed several fundraising challenges, but I’ve never done one that’s off road.

Overall, roughly ninety percent of the trail is accessible to visually impaired people depending on their level of vision and support needs.

“They only need to walk 100km to get the certificate; a very meaningful thing for those of faith. 

“The great thing is the variety of people one meets from all over the world.  Everyone was pleasant and I had no unpleasant experiences over the 39 days.”

Since Richard’s diagnosis, he has been supported by a number of RNIB’s services and is also a regular user of RNIB Talking Books.

He enjoys listening to autobiographies and is fundraising to help the charity continue to support blind and partially sighted people.                                        

He adds: “I’m usually solo for my challenges but I’ve never felt alone due to the supportive public. I’ve met people from all walks of life, including a few celebrities!”

Chris Perrin, head of supporter led fundraising at RNIB, said: “Richard has conquered countless fundraising challenges in aid of RNIB and we are incredibly thankful for all he has raised for the charity so far.”

To support Richard’s fundraising efforts for RNIB, please visit: 

Pictured top: Richard Simpson during the Camino de Santiago (Picture: Richard Simpson)

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