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Blind fundraiser appeals for help

PUBLISHED: 23:00 12 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:10 03 March 2010

AN AMAZING blind fundraiser who has achieved the incredible feat of almost single handedly collecting £44,000 for charity is now appealing for your help.

AN AMAZING blind fundraiser who has achieved the incredible feat of almost single handedly collecting £44,000 for charity is now appealing for your help.

Enthusiastic volunteer, Paul Finnerty, has devoted the last two years to generating funds for the Ipswich Blind Society and the St Felix Home for the Blind in Felixstowe.

But to help ease his burden and to generate a bigger income for the charities he is now calling on people to join him.

The 57-year-old, a former wedding photographer who became registered blind following an eye disease which made him slowly lose his sight. He said: "I am trying to get some help of any form.

"This could be from a few hours collecting to general assistance with the organising of events, or even driving.

"Any support would of course be voluntary. But any out of pocket expenses would be repaid.

"There is no obligation whatsoever, all people have to do is ask and we can fit in with them."

Mr Finnerty's past achievements include last year recruiting 50 people to join him on an abseil down Ipswich Hospital maternity wing. Between them they raised a staggering £6,000.

He also spent 44 days collecting at supermarkets and shopping centres – totalling 350 hours work – which brought in £10,500.

In addition Mr Finnerty, of Mersey Road, Ipswich, approached schools, public houses, clubs and companies in Ipswich and Felixstowe to urge them to support the two causes.

Mr Finnerty worked for ten years, until 1992, as a full-time fundraiser for the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) in Suffolk. He then became a volunteer collector for the Kidney Foundation until his most recent voluntary post.

"I decided to fundraise for Ipswich Blind Society and the St Felix Home for the Blind because I was registered blind so I should be obviously helping blind people," he said.

"Blindness is a serious disability and people should be helped to lead as near to normal life with support."

As well as the usual collections and appeals more spaces are bring taken for this year's abseil on July 6. A charity auction is also being held at the Golf Hotel, Ipswich.

Other plans include the distribution of collecting boxes in shops and public houses in Ipswich.

An Ipswich Bus Challenge planned for August, which is a sponsored event open to all age groups and involves visiting locations in the borough only using Ipswich Buses.

There are also hopes to have house to house collections. "Any form of help will be appreciated," added Mr Finnerty.

Established in 1868 the Ipswich Blind Society is one of the town's oldest charities offering welfare and support to visually impaired people and their families.

St Felix Home for the Blind in Felixstowe, which opened in 1950, is a residential home for 16 elderly visually impaired people.

n More people are registered blind in Britain EVERY DAY. There are 600 registered blind and partially sighted people in Ipswich.

nIf you would like to help Mr Finnerty fundraise contact him at 60 Mersey Road, Ipswich, IP3 0QN. Telephone 01473-716310.

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