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.


Stay in touch

We send out emails to keep people on our mailing list up to date with events, new resources and other services which we think are relevant to our community.

Join now