Daredevil Dean’s Race Against Time Before He Goes Blind
by Ruth Wood 23rd September, 2002
DAREDEVIL Dean Dunbar told yesterday how he is racing to see as much of the world as possible before he goes blind.
Every hour of every day, the 33-year-old from Exeter lives his life to the full, knowing that at any moment the world could turn dark.
This weekend was no exception, as the extreme sports fanatic took to the skies above Somerset for his first wing-walk.
Strapped to the top of an Aerosuperbatics plane, he soared high above the crowds at the Yeovilton Air Show as part of a fundraising stunt for charity SeeAbility.
“It was absolutely unbelievable,” said the freelance web designer, who is registered blind. “I’ve done helicopter bungee jumps and skydives before, but I’d never done a wing-walk.”
“I couldn’t see how high up I was or make out the people below me, but I could see where the ground was and feel the incredible G-force.”
“My mouth was open in amazement and my cheeks were vibrating. It was fantastic.”
Dean had full vision until he was nine. Then one day in class he realised he could no longer read the writing on the blackboard.
It was another 17 years before he was diagnosed with rod and cone dystrophy, which causes the light-receptive cells in his eyes to die.
“I was told I was going blind and there was no cure,” said Dean. “I was absolutely devastated.”
Dean’s eyesight took another dramatic turn for the worse last year, just weeks before he was due to walk down the aisle with his fiancee, health worker Rhona McCorkingdale.
To his horror he realised that he might never see all the places they had planned to visit on honeymoon. But instead of dwelling on their misfortune, the couple put their wedding plans on hold, gave up their jobs, sold Rhona’s home and spent the money on a six-month tour of the world.
Dean said: “We went white-water rafting, deep sea diving, snowboarding, trekking in the Himalayas, it w as just brilliant.”
Dean and Rhona finally tied the knot in May, but he continues to live life on the edge.
by Ruth Wood
Western Daily Press