Laura

Hello
My name is Laura Whitaker and I am 40 years of age. I have Usher syndrome, I was born partially deaf and started to lose my sight from a young age but didn’t get diagnosed until I was 19.

I struggled a lot to begin with – learning to live with Usher syndrome was a shock. I was already living with hearing loss and found this hard growing up. Then knowing I was going to lose my sight, I found hard to accept. I needed a lot of support and help which I didn’t want as I was in denial. I was very active and to then not be able to do things by myself, I felt useless.

I heard about Access To Work who support you with getting to work and equipment to support you at work. That was great. But after work I was stuck at home until my husband got home.

I then heard about Guide Dogs and applied.  After all the assessments I got my first guide dog, Susan. She was a golden retriever cross German shepherd.  She was amazing.

The training was very interesting and Susan helped me get my confidence back and I started getting out on my own after we qualified. I started to love life and get out more.

I then found out about Bury Tandem Club for blind and partially sighted people and joined them, which I really enjoy.

As the years passed by, my vision was getting worse, but I coped with it as I had all the support from family, friends, guide dogs and Bury Tandem Club.

Knowing I have support means a lot to me and accepting help was the best thing I did.

I have Usher syndrome and it’s made me who I am today.

I complete lots of charity events to help raise funds for those who have helped me, including hard challenges to show others and myself it can be done. Yes I need help and a guide, but I can still do it.

I’m currently trying to do a full Iron man this year in September – so far I’ve only ever completed a half once. This is my biggest challenge yet and I am training hard to achieve this.

I’m mostly positive in life. Don’t get me wrong I still have very bad days when I really struggle, but I cope better as I know I have my counsellor, my amazing family and friends and my fitness to keep me going.

Just remember support is always out there. Never be afraid to ask for help.

I have started a new job which I absolutely love. They are very supportive, kind and patient. I couldn’t be any happier.

I just want to say a massive thank you to all my family and friends and to the wonderful public who have helped me. I couldn’t have done the things I want to do without their support so for that I thank you.

Laura

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