Ex-soldier turns life around

David Cranson with his London Marathon medal
David Cranson with his London Marathon medal

AN inspirational blind veteran who has already completed several gruelling challenges – including the London Marathon – is plottingnext adventure.

David Cranson, 59, served as a gunner with the 5th Regiment of the Royal Artillery for four years from 1971 but his life changed forever when he was later diagnosed with a condition that robbed him of his sight.

David Cranson with his London Marathon medal

David Cranson with his London Marathon medal

David admits he hit rock bottom but with the help of organisation Blind Veterans UK and rehabilitation clinics in Sheffield and Brighton he has turned his life around and now regularly competes in cycling and running challenges.

He got in touch with Blind Veterans UK in the summer of 2007 and said they have helped transform his outlook on life.

David, who lives in Deaf Hill and is dad to Karen Cranson, 36, and Wayne Cranson, 33, said: “The people at Blind Veterans UK and rehab centres have really turned me around and helped give me a positive outlook on life.

“I was very low before and kept within myself but they said there is something in me and they will bring it out.

“It has taken a of dedication and the support of my friends and family, who tell me I am an inspiration.”

The grandad-of-four, who left the army in 1975, was later diagnosed with optic atrophy, a deterioration of the optic nerve, in May 1988.

He admits between then and 2007 he hit rock bottom but has since gone on to enjoy intensive rehabilitation including gym work and swimming and also learned new skills including kitchen skills and touch type.

Since 2009, David has cycled in tandem the 60 miles from London to Brighton, completed 60-mile bike rides in Dorking and Brighton and the Great South Run, a 10 mile run in Portsmouth.

David, who can only see blurred shapes, also managed to complete his first 26.2 mile London Marathon in April with the help of a guide and he is now looking forward to taking on his fourth London Triathlon on Sunday, July 

The challenge includes a one mile river swim, a 24-mile bike ride and then a six-mile run.

David, who trains at Hartlepool’s Mill House Leisure Centre, said: “The London Marathon was fantastic, the noise and support of the crowd was wonderful.

“I am really looking forward to the London Triathlon, it should be a great event.”

David’s dream is to meet triathletes, Alastair Brownlee, who won gold at London 2012 Olympics and younger brother Jonathan Brownlee who won the bronze medal last summer.

He said: “I would love to meet the Brownlee brothers.”

David is a member of the Hartlepool branch of the Royal Artillery Association and took part in the recent Armed Forces Day parade.