A Redmile man is sailing around the world to raise money for a sight-loss charity in support of a friend’s teenage son.
Andy Harrhy is taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and will be at sea for almost a year after setting out from St Katherine Docks, in London, earlier this month.
He is hoping to raise £5,000 for eye research charity, Fight for Sight, inspired by 16-year-old Sam Myers, who suffers from rare inherited eye condition, Stargardt disease, which causes progressive loss of vision.
Sam struggles with basic everyday tasks such as seeing the board at school and watching television and his sight is likely to get worse over time with no current cure for the disease.
Before setting off, Andy said: “I am really looking forward to this immense challenge and to raise money for a dear friend of mine’s son, Sam, whose condition has severely impacted his life and that of his parents.
“Currently there is no cure, but pioneering research is underway and funding is needed to help Fight for Sight in their mission to stop sight loss.”
Amazingly, Andy has virtually no sailing experience aside from the four weeks training he was given for the race.
He will be one of 60 crew members, including 10 different nationalities, on the GoToBermuda boat, and at at 68 is one of the oldest aboard.
Many on the 11-strong fleet taking part will only do one of the legs but Andy will complete the entire race - 40,000 nautical miles - passing through storms in the South Atlantic, intense tropical cyclones in the North Pacific and the ‘roaring forties’ of the Southern Ocean.
Andy’s wife, Sandra, who is following her husband’s progress online and is planning to meet up with when they reach Portugal, told the Melton Times: “Andy was very excited and nervous before setting off - he was going through a lot of emotions.
“He’s never sailed before but he got himself fit by cycling around the Vale of Belvoir.
“I was very excited to see his boat was in the lead on Wednesday.”
Andy and Sandra, who have two daughters and four grandsons, are retired but own a factory in Notingham which manufactures furniture for schools.
She added: “He is very much inspired by what Sam is going through. It came as quite a shock to us when we heard because it is tough for a young fellow to lose his sight.”
Sam’s mum, Jill, last year raised money for Fight for Sight by taking on an epic 450-mile cycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
She said: “We know there is no cure but we want to believe that there will be one.
“The only way we will get there is through research – to find a new treatment that will help make things better for Sam in the future.”
Go online at www.clipperroundtheworld.com/ and entering his team name ‘GOTOBERMUDA’ into the race viewer to follow Andy’a progress in the race.
Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andyharrhy-clipperroundtheworldrace to pledge sponsorship for his efforts.