Woman Who Will Go Completely Blind Creates ‘Visual Memory List’

A woman is given a mission to complete items on a ‘visual memory list’, including visiting an Australian island with a population of nine and exploring Antarctica, before going completely blind.

Tiggi Trethowan, 65, who lives in Somerset, lost sight in his right eye about 15 years ago and has 6% vision in his left eye, and was told by doctors: “My sight is hanging off the edge of a floss cliff. that could break at any moment.”

The diagnosis means she will eventually go completely blind, and Ms Trethowan said it was important for her to create a “visual memory list” and visit places she loves or wants to travel to.

A sighted guide always accompanies her on trips, with Ms Trethowan’s black Labrador Jackie, whom she met five years ago through Guide Dogs and is her “absolute life”, present on some.

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Tiggi Trethowan has advised people to never give up or never give up in the face of adversity (Tiggi Trethowan/PA)

“If I see something that I want to put into my visual memories, I actually always physically stop and click my eyes almost like a camera and consciously store it as a mental photograph,” he told the PA news agency.

“Even before I found out that I had 6% of my sight in my left eye, I realized that the chances others have of being able to look at a beautiful painting or look at pictures in a photo album when my sight was completely lost is not It’d be enough. be an option

“My choices were to get into bed, put the duvet on top, and never get up again, or get up and revisit the places I’ve loved and the people I’ve loved.”

So far he has been to new places, such as Patagonia, Chile and Argentina, the “most dramatic” being Antarctica, where he traveled on a fishing boat with his guide.

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Tiggi Trethowan visited Antarctica as part of his visual memory list (Tiggi Trethowan/PA)

The “pinnacle” of the visual list has been a trip to Wales to see humpback whales.

“We went to a tiny scientific station on an island, where scientists work with humpback whales in the area,” he said.

“We slept on a beach in these pods and one day we went to a field where there were more than 30 humpback whales.

“They were like stepping stones, we were right between them, it was so magical.”

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Tiggi Trethowan, Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham and Jackie (David Parry/PA)

Last month, Guide Dogs surprised Ms Trethowan by organizing her to take part in the Go Ape Bracknell Treetop Challenge, which includes tree-to-tree crossings and zip lines, with the help of Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham, 57, from Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares wins

“There were so many ropes and harnesses that for someone with 6% vision it was a challenge,” said Ms Trethowan.

“But I literally dove and the nice thing about being blind is that I can’t see where the ground is, so it didn’t really matter.

“I can’t tell you how nice Billy was. He never pushed me, but he was always there to support me.

“We did the really big zip line together and I turned to him and said ‘did I break you?’ and he said ‘finally, you’ve broken me'”.

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Tiggi Trethowan and Mark ‘Billy’ Billingham (David Parry/PA)

Mr Billingham, who is based in Herefordshire and also spends a lot of time in Lake Worth, Florida, told PA it was an “absolute pleasure” to take part.

“Tiggi is like a little generator, she’s always smiling and full of positive energy, and she’s also a little liar.

“She really tested me, if I’m honest, and I think I was more nervous than her.

“(On the final zipline), it was actually quite difficult, but there was nothing stopping her – she grabbed my hand and just went off and screamed and we crashed on the bottom and it was a really nice moment.”

He added that Ms Trethowan is a great example of someone who has faced an obstacle and overcome it.

“Everyone is going to face a dark gap or obstacle,” he said.

“It’s just an obstacle and the faster we attack that obstacle and the faster we get over it, the faster we enjoy what we should be enjoying again.”

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Tiggi Trethowan with his Labrador Jackie (Tiggi Trethowan/PA)

Ms Trethowan has advised people who may be worried about losing their sight to “never give up, never give up”.

“It is a diagnosis. Yes, it could potentially be life limiting, but it is not life threatening.

“It’s just a form of renavigation.”

Ms Trethowan, who previously worked on broadcast independently and is involved in numerous projects including being an ambassador for Guide Dogs, added that when she first received her diagnosis, it was difficult news to take.

“I mean I literally lost my house, couldn’t drive anymore, almost went bankrupt because I couldn’t pay the bills,” he said.

“But after accepting it, I realized that losing my sight has given me more than it has taken away.

“And Guide Dogs has always been there for me and they test me and Jackie on a regular basis.”

The remaining items on the list include traveling to Costa Rica to visit Fortuna Sloth Sanctuary, a trip to Kenya, a country he previously visited while working on a documentary with Amref Flying Doctors, and revisiting Dirk Hartog Island in Australia, which it has a population of nine.

Guide dogs provide a sighted guide service to help people with sight loss live the life they choose.

More information on becoming a guide dog ‘My Sighted Guide’ volunteer can be found at www.guidedogs.org.uk


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