A BLIND sailor from Yate hopes to secure funds that will enable him to represent Team GB in 2017.

Mark Austen lost his sight following a head-on collision with an articulated lorry 23 years ago, which left him with less than 30 per cent vision in just one eye.

Due to complications from the accident, the 53-year-old is unable to work but is making waves in the world of sailing after being selected to be a member of the Great British Blind Sailing Team.

The passionate sailor hopes to compete in several international races this year, including the Open Championships in the USA, the International Match Racing Championships in Italy, the Fleet Racing World Championships in the USA and Open National Championships in Cowes.

But he faces a financial barrier to his dreams because the necessary training for the events is currently unfunded and will cost around £7,600.

Mark said: "I'm really proud to have been chosen to represent Team GB but need support to put towards my training costs.

"I'm overwhelmed by the support and generosity people have shown so far." 

A keen charity supporter himself, Mark is appealing for people to help him raise funds for his training, which he will supplement through money earned by playing the saxophone at private events and busking.

The passionate sailor joined the GB Blind Sailing team in January alongside twenty other blind and partially-sighted people, and has so far completed one month with the team.

Money raised through fundraising will help pay for Mark's training sessions on Lake Windermere and at Cowes on the Isle of Wight over the next year. 

His tandem pilot, Bob Keen, said: “Mark is a really inspirational character who is poised to move into the big time if he achieves his targets for 2017.

“He is such a force of nature that it has been suggested to him that he should try for sponsorship with a local company in exchange for his motivational activities with their staff.”

Mark's Just Giving page can be found here.