A BLIND woman who lost her sight in a road accident 12 years ago will be getting back behind the wheel of a car to raise money for charity on Sunday.
Janice Heatherington, 68, from Hook, will be taking part in a challenge organised by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association at the Transport Research Laboratory in Crowthorne.
Mrs Heatherington, who lived and worked in Farnborough for more than 30 years, will be driving a dual controlled car with the help of a driving instructor.
She will have to negotiate a private road system complete with junctions, roundabouts and various obstacles.
“I am terrified,” admitted Mrs Heatherington.
But she added: “This is my way of laying the ghosts to rest and stopping the flashbacks.
“Apparently if I do well on the driving I can have a go on the skid cars, but I am very nervous about the whole thing.
“However I am pleased that I can raise money for Guide Dogs by doing the blind drive challenge and hopefully getting as many sponsors as possible.”
Mrs Heatherington has had her guide dog, a black Labrador called Sir Henley, since 1996 and says that he has completely changed her life.
“I gave him the title because he’s worth it,” she added. “He is invaluable to me.”
The charity hopes that people throughout Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey will sign up for the blind drive experience.
One incentive for the person who raises the most money is a visit to the Williams Formula One Test Day at Silverstone in June for two people.
Guide Dogs event organiser Jacqui Chapman said blind volunteers can take guests, who have to be blindfolded.
She said: “For visually impaired people this really is a unique opportunity to savour the thrill and sensation of driving, and for their blindfolded partners a chance to experience how difficult everyday tasks become without the benefit of sight.
“We hope the event will be a driving force in raising £5,000 for Guide Dogs in the south-east.”
Guide Dogs is a charity which aims to meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people, using guide dogs as its core service.
The charity regularly campaigns on behalf of its clients and aims to educate the public on optical health, and makes huge investments into eye health.
The dual control cars and instructors will be provided by the Three Counties driving school, which regularly runs courses at the TRL, and the skid cars will be provided by Drivetech.
Anyone who would like to sponsor Mrs Heatherington should call the charity on 01189 895868 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Janice is pictured with Sir Henley — and a car.