A CHIPPING Sodbury woman has headed off to the Sahara to raise money and awareness for the charity RP Fighting Blindness (RPFB), which supports sufferers of Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Lisa Taplin, who works in insurance and suffers from RP herself, left last Saturday for a 100km hike across the desert. She is walking for up to eight hours a day with a group of 21 and returns on Good Friday.
Most of the group are registered blind and have RP, leaving them with limited peripheral vision and very little vision at night. There is no treatment or cure and many sufferers will eventually lose their sight. 25, 000 people in the UK suffer from the disorder.
Lisa said: “I’ve always wanted to walk for RP. Since November we have trained as a group a couple of times, including a great 17 mile walk in Bournemouth.
“It’s going to be a challenge but I am sure that willpower, adrenaline and camaraderie will pull me through. They are a really nice group of people.
Lisa aims to raise awareness and £2,800 for the charity, with the help of local businesses, friends and her husband Martin and daughter Freya, 10, who are very proud of her work. She has held many events over the last year including cake sales, Christmas raffles and charity nights with live bands.
The money raised will be used for the funding of research into treatments for this incurable eye disease including gene therapy, stem cell studies and retinal implants. The charity also offers support and help to people living with sight loss.
But her biggest fundraiser is no doubt her trek across the Sahara. It is the world’s hottest desert and is one of the largest and driest.
Lisa has trained with lots of countryside and beach walks and on the treadmill at home but is aware of the challenge ahead.
Lisa said: “I'm very excited about this event and even though I know the extreme temperatures of above thirty degree and the conditions will be tough I'll be facing it with a great bunch of people who have already changed from strangers to friends!”
The group will be rising at 6am on each of the four days, sleeping in tents and sampling Moroccan food cooked by local people. They will have time to rest and explore some of the wonders of North Africa, before returning to Chipping Sodbury.
If you would like to make a donation you can do so on Lisa’s page: www.justgiving.com/Lisa-Taplin