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Mark

Mark lost his sight in 1999, he has an hereditary eye condition which meant he lost his sight gradually. He is an active member of Thrive, sitting on the advisory committee which ensures input from members.

Mark's story was written by journalist Adrian Lee and was published in the Daily Express newspaper. The photos were taken by Simon Barber.

Find out more about Thrive's support on Gardening for blind and partially sighted people.

Mark next to his greenhouse
Mark tells us his story:

"I’ve always enjoyed being in the garden but feared I’d have to give up when I could no longer see. At the time I was renting a house with a large garden but it was becoming overgrown.

"Then, through Thrive, I attended a residential gardening course. I learned how to identify plants using touch and smell and which ones were easy to prune and maintain. I’ve been on six weekend courses and I think I’ve become quite an accomplished gardener. It’s been good for my self-esteem.

"I live in a flat now, with no garden, but I have an allotment. There’s always lots of clearing and digging to be done, so it’s a good way of keeping fit. In the summer I’m up there two or three times a week. I can’t look at what I’ve been doing but I still feel the benefits of a hard day’s work.

"When you grow something from seed to the plate, there’s a real sense of achievement. It’s also very sociable. We all know one another at the allotment and we swap seeds and produce.

"With failing vision, it’s helped me through quite a difficult period. I don’t know what else I would have done with a lot of my time. Gardening gives me tremendous pleasure. If I don’t get up to the allotment at the weekend, I often feel quite down.

"Two years ago I launched my own project for blind and visually impaired people, called Gardeneyes. We have members from all over Norfolk and meet monthly."