Cowplain woman who became blind urges people to leave a legacy

GROWING Fiona Drinan in her garden in Cowplain.   Picture: Allan Hutchings (113360-135)
GROWING Fiona Drinan in her garden in Cowplain. Picture: Allan Hutchings (113360-135)
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JUST before her 40th birthday, Fiona Drinan’s world was plunged into darkness – she was told she was losing her sight.

She was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition which causes damage to the retina.

Now 56, Fiona is registered blind.

But thanks to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, she says she has got her life back on track and to show her appreciation, she has left a legacy for the charity in her will.

Fiona, of Cowplain, said: ‘I was shocked when I found out – absolutely shocked.

‘I lost control and just burst into tears, and even now I’m still adjusting.’

Fiona added: ‘I knew my sight was going to deteriorate.

‘Then five years ago I became completely blind and had to give up working as a housing officer in London.

‘I can make out some light, but my vision is best described as trying to see through thick fog.

‘I still get blind panic attacks now, but slowly I’m starting to get my confidence back and that’s largely with the help of the RNIB.’

Fiona is now able to go shopping alone, and has found love for cooking, gardening, going to the gym and sailing.

And to say thank you to the RNIB, Fiona will be leaving a percentage of her estate to the charity in her will.

‘I miss watching sports – especially the Rugby World Cup,’ added Fiona.

‘I miss just getting up and going out.

‘Sometimes I have to psyche myself up to go out.

‘When I was registered blind I was given a leaflet about rehabilitation from the NHS, but there was a six-month waiting list for help. I didn’t want to wait that long.

‘So I went to the RNIB, who gave me information.

‘They put me in touch with local friend groups and a telephone helpline.

‘I urge people to leave a legacy to them, because without RNIB I would have been left in the dark.’

Charlotte Smith, legacy marketing manager at the RNIB, said: ‘Legacy gifts are the foundation of much of the fantastic charitable work done, and without people like Fiona leaving money in their wills, many charities would struggle to exist.

‘At RNIB much of our vital work helping people with sight loss is only possible thanks to legacy gifts.’

To find out more call 0845 600 0313, email legacyservices@rnib.org.uk or visit rnib.org.uk/legacy.