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Former Red Arrows pilot with sight issues completes 1000-mile run at John O’Groats


By David G Scott

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Martin Higgins (known as Higgy), a distinguished former member of the RAF Red Arrows, has successfully completed a run from Land’s End to John O’Groats, to raise awareness of glaucoma and support the charity’s new research fellowship.

Not only did Higgy endure 18 months of intense training, but he also took part in many media interviews during his rest days to raise awareness of the disease and the importance of regular eye tests for safeguarding sight.

Martin Higgins at the finishing point of his epic Lejog run at John O'Groats. Pictures: Martin Higgins and Glaucoma UK
Martin Higgins at the finishing point of his epic Lejog run at John O'Groats. Pictures: Martin Higgins and Glaucoma UK

Glaucoma UK is a charity dedicated to supporting people living with glaucoma across the UK. As part of its 50th-anniversary celebrations, the charity encourages the public to join the fight against glaucoma by pledging “one action” to raise awareness of the disease.

Higgy was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2003 during a routine eye examination. “While I’m used to soaring far above the clouds in a fast jet as a former Red Arrow, on the ground, you’re most likely to find me diligently applying my glaucoma eye drops every day at my home in Buckinghamshire,” he said.

Martin is known as Higgy to his friends.
Martin is known as Higgy to his friends.

Regular eye checks and daily eye drops kept him in the air, but soon after his diagnosis, he became aware of the shortfalls in funding for glaucoma research.

This is why he is determined to raise £50,000 towards Glaucoma UK’s Pitts Crick Research Fellowship appeal and has already raised more than £19,000. The Pitts Crick Career Development Fellowship, launched earlier this year, is a three-year post-doctoral research fellowship. The charity hopes the selected researcher will go on to play a pivotal role in transforming glaucoma diagnosis or treatment in the future.

Higgy received support from friends and colleagues throughout the challenge, including a special flypast by the RAF Red Arrows during his journey.
Higgy received support from friends and colleagues throughout the challenge, including a special flypast by the RAF Red Arrows during his journey.

Higgy added: “I hope this research will mean my son and his generation will not have to worry about glaucoma.” His concern for his son arises from the hereditary nature of glaucoma.

He received support from friends and colleagues throughout the challenge, including a special flypast by the RAF Red Arrows as he crossed the border into Scotland along with a rousing anthem by a bagpiper.

Higgy running along the coastline during his Lejog trek.
Higgy running along the coastline during his Lejog trek.

Glaucoma UK’s chief executive expressed her heartfelt thanks to Higgy and said: “We are proud of Martin for successfully completing this remarkable challenge.

“The charity is deeply appreciative of his unwavering commitment and dedication to raising awareness of glaucoma and funds for glaucoma research. Thank you, Martin, for your incredible contribution and determination.”

Martin Higgins had a routine eye check which revealed he had glaucoma.
Martin Higgins had a routine eye check which revealed he had glaucoma.

To contribute to Martin’s fundraising goal, please visit his Just Giving page: justgiving.com/page/go-higgy-go

Glaucoma UK invites everyone to join the "I will..." campaign and pledge to support the cause. For more information about Glaucoma UK and the "I will..." campaign, please visit Glaucoma UK's website: www.glaucoma.uk


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