Two Pudsey women inspired by their friend who played the first permanently blind person in a British soap have raised thousands of pounds for Sense – a charity for deafblind people.
Kitty McGeever, a RADA-trained actor from Bradford, who lost her sight aged 32 due to diabetes and stress-related problems, joined the Emmerdale cast as ex-con Lizzie Lakely in 2009. The actress has since lost her hearing as well.
Samantha Armitage, 42, of Windmill Hill, who has known Kitty for more than 20 years, decided to run the London Marathon to raise money alongside friend Caroline Bond, 49, of South Parade - whose husband bagged her place in a charity auction.
Samantha said: "Kitty has dealt in her own way with losing her sight, but to then have that double whammy of losing your hearing as well - it is inconceivable how you would manage and cope with that."
Caroline added: "It's amazing what people can try to cope with just to hold onto their independence. She is fiercely independent."
Samantha pledged to raise £1,500 in early January, but since then they have collected £2,900 through donations from friends and colleagues and by leaving collection boxes in businesses in the area, like Pulse hairdessers in Pudsey.
Both work as market researchers, but met through running with other parents at Greenside Primary School and have trained for the marathon's 26.2 miles in Yorkshire's valleys. Their families were cheering them on at the race.
Caroline said: "Neither of us are expert runners by any stretch of the imagination, but it's the ultimate test to see if you can go that far.”
Samantha said: “It was the crowds that absolutely got us round – the support was unbelievable. We got extra cheers at the end because we were still running.
“We’re really pleased and really proud – we did exactly what we wanted to do. It was a perfect day really, we couldn’t ask for it to have been any better.”
With about 250,000 deafblind people in the UK, Sense provides specialist information, advice and services to them, their families, carers and the professionals who work with them.
Marianne Beggs, Head of Community and Events Fundraising, said: "The money raised will help deafblind children and adults overcome the isolation that they face on a daily basis and enjoy some of the things that most people take for granted.”
The pair next plan to run the Leeds Half Marathon.
To donate for Sunday's race visit www.justgiving.com/Caroline-Sam.