A SALISBURY man is getting on his bike to thank a charity who gave his father the "opportunities and skills to lead his extraordinary life".

Robin Stephens, 59, is organising a bike ride from Southampton to Hereford to raise money for the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) in memory of his late father Gordon who was a student there in the 1940s and 1950s.

The 175 mile cycle will take place in October and Robin will be joined by a group of friends and colleagues to support the Hereford-based college in appreciation of the help his father received after losing his sight in an air raid in 1941.

Gordon Stephens was born in Cardiff in 1931 and, at the age of nine, was living on Blackstone Street during one of the worst nights of the Blitz on the Welsh capital.

Following strikes on his home, Gordon was pulled from the rubble as the only survivor on his street.

He lost most of his sight as a result of his injuries and later became a student at RNC where he studied music and took a teaching diploma.

Gordon later entered the Civil Service and worked for the Ministry of Aviation in London.

After taking up a special training opportunity in computer programming in 1966, he transferred to Customs and Excise in Southend, where he ultimately became a senior manager.

Gordon taught children to play the piano in his spare time.

And in his retirement he helped other visually impaired people to cope with their sight loss, particularly by discussing his own experience, demonstrating useful gadgets, and teaching Braille. He was awarded an MBE in 1988 for his services.

Robin Stephens said: “After losing dad in 2015, we set up a family memorial trust to help support the terrific work of the RNC. They gave him the opportunities and skills to lead his extraordinary life.

“The fundraising bike ride is one of many ways I’d like to support the College so they can continue to help young people with visual impairments.”

Frankie Devereux, the fundraising manager at RNC, added: “We are extremely lucky that the College has such passionate supporters. Robin’s efforts are not only a testament to the help his father gained from RNC but also a tribute to his achievements throughout his life”.

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