The family of a foster carer who lost his vision after sustaining a devastating injury has raised £1,600 for sight loss charity Galloway’s in recognition of its support.
Nigel Walker, of Morecambe, was left with severe sight loss when he hit his head against a door frame in 2018. He described feeling at his ‘lowest ebb,’ but the support he received from Galloway’s gave him the confidence to return to work and made his life easier. With his wife Penny, he continued his role as a foster carer, which earned him an outstanding contribution award by The Fostering Network last year.
So when his sister-in-law Tamara Grant said she wanted donations instead of gifts for her 40th birthday, Nigel didn’t hesitate in suggesting Galloway’s.
The 52-year-old said: “The help I have received from Galloway’s has been invaluable and has meant a lot to us, so I wanted to find a way to say thank you.
“As my sister-in-law was asking for donations instead of gifts, I asked if she could send it to Galloway’s.”
Although Nigel was born partially sighted, the injury two years ago reduced his vision further, leaving him with only a bit of sight in his left eye.
Describing the care he received at Royal Lancaster Hospital and Galloway’s as a ‘Godsend,’ he recalled: “I was taken to Royal Lancaster Infirmary and whilst there, I spoke to the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) from Galloway’s. This first contact was a Godsend and meant so much, as everything was so bewildering and I was at my lowest ebb. But she put me in touch with the Galloway’s team at the Morecambe site which really made a difference.
“I spoke to one of the sight loss advisors, Nia Greer, who helped me with low vision aids for day to day tasks. They also showed me equipment I could use at work, which helped me know what to ask for through the DWP’s Access to Work scheme.
“I also attended the Living With Sight Loss Course which was amazing and made me feel so much better about my sight loss.
“Before lockdown, I would pop into the Brew Me Sunshine Cafe in Morecambe to have a coffee and to say hello. We always receive a warm welcome. The cafe is a great place to meet people and was somewhere to access other key services as we were able to use their meeting rooms.
“The Galloway’s team also put me in touch with various other support networks. I was given a key worker with the RNIB, which gave me the confidence to get back to work.”
After just a few months, Nigel was able to return to his job as a manager at the Auckland Hotel, in Morecambe, where he had worked for 19 years.
His wife, Penny, 47, added: “Going back to work was a huge transition for Nigel, as before his sight loss, he was a very hands on manager, working front of house in the restaurant.
Then he suddenly lost his sight and he had to sit behind a desk. But it has been amazing for Nigel to be able to have a support worker and be able to return to work.”
Penny added she was grateful for the support Galloway’s has given her as she had to come to terms with her husband’s sight loss.
She said: “Galloway’s has always been there for us. They are very professional, warm and nurturing. They cannot do enough to help us.
“Little things like lending Nigel a white stick until we were able to order one, or lending him glasses when his pair of glasses broke, really make a difference to our lives.”
Nigel added: “Penny was left to steer the ship and hold everything together when I lost my sight, so the support Galloway’s gives to family members is equally important.”
Back in March, the couple had to self isolate with their two foster children, as they were displaying symptoms of the Coronavirus. Penny’s condition was so severe, she was admitted to Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
She said: “I had pneumonia in my lungs and I was really unwell. My test came back negative, but I was that far into the illness, it may not have been easily picked up. I had all the symptoms. Everyone else in my household recovered quite quickly but I had been struggling with my breathing. My doctor told me I had to go to hospital. I thought I would only be in and out but I had to stay over. No-one could come in and see me. It was so scary.”
Penny has since made a full recovery and added: “The support I had at the hospital has been fantastic.”
Nicola Hanna, head of income generation at Galloway’s, said: “We are extremely thankful to Nigel, Penny and Tamara for supporting us and donating such a large amount of money. It will make a huge difference to the lives of blind and partially people who we support.
“Because of the detrimental effect the Coronavirus pandemic is having on our fundraising, we need help from families like Nigel’s more than ever to ensure we can continue our good work.
“If anyone else wants to fundraise for us, they can call us on 01772 744148 or for other ways to donate, visit https://www.galloways.org.uk/donate-ideas for more information.”