TWO doctors are running the Goring 10km blindfolded to raise money for eye patients in Kenya.
Madeleine Bastawrous, who grew up and went to school in the village, will tackle the challenge with her husband Andrew on Sunday.
Along with six blindfolded supporters, the couple hope to raise £10,000 for Mr Bastawrous’ work for the Kenyan Ministry of Health.
Joining them are Andrew’s sister Mary-Anne, Mary-Anne’s fiancé Daniel Walters and friends Katherine Cook and Matthew, Jonathan and David Harrison.
The group will work in pairs, with four acting as unblindfolded guides before swapping roles halfway through.
Mr Bastawrous, 32, is studying 3,000 patients across Kenya’s Nakuru district to help the ministry understand the progression of eye disease.
He has developed a way of examining eyes with a mobile phone camera and a specialist app, which means his team can work in remote rural areas.
Mrs Bastawrous, also 32, plans to open a bakery in the city of Nakuru to raise funds for community projects and health programmes.
She has been offered land and premises but still needs to pay for equipment and staff training.
If the pair beat their £10,000 target, the extra money will go towards her goal.
The couple have raised £4,000 so far, which includes an anonymous donation of £2,000.
This will pay to treat patients who are found to have eye problems during Mr Bastawrous’ study.
It will cover operations, glasses, eye drops and medication as well as transport to hospital and follow-up appointments.
Just £40 will pay for a cataract removal, which is the most commonly required procedure.
Mrs Bastawrous grew up in Milldown Road, where her parents Helen and Chris McCutcheon still live.
She attended Goring Primary School and Didcot Girls’ School before going to the University of Leeds, where she met her husband.
The pair married in 2008 at St Thomas’ Church in Goring, where Mrs Bastawrous was a chorister as a child.
They lived in nearby Cholsey for several years before moving to Cheshire with one-year-old son Lucas.
All three moved to Nakuru in October last year and will live there for another 12 months.
They are staying with Mr and Mrs McCutcheon for the next month before flying back to finish the project.
Mrs Bastawrous said: “I’ve done the Goring 10km before, but because of what we’re doing in Kenya it made sense to do it blindfolded.
“We didn’t want to just approach people and ask them to give us money - we wanted to do something a little bit different.
“I run every morning but we haven’t practised the route blindfolded yet, so that’s going to be a big objective for us this week.
“The others are very excited about taking part. It’s something they’ve never done before and it’s fantastic to see them so inspired.
“The Goring 10km is a beautiful run, though obviously we won’t see a lot of it this time round.
“But on the plus side, at least we won’t see if anyone’s laughing at us.”
Mr and Mrs Bastawrous are on career breaks from the NHS, for whom Mrs Bastawrous is a paediatrician at the Oxford Deanery training school.
Her husband, an opthalmologist, is on temporary placement with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The pair are giving a talk about their work at the Morrell Rooms in Streatley tomorrow night (Saturday).
Tickets are £5, which includes refreshments from Pierreponts in Goring.
Mr Bastawrous said: “We didn’t think it was fair to just diagnose people with eye problems without doing something to help them.
“I hope we manage to hit our target - if we don’t, we will have to find some other way of getting the money.
“Over here, visually impaired people have aids like Braille, guide dogs and social services, but there’s nothing like that in Kenya.
“There’s no free health care either, so if a person starts losing their sight it can put a heavy burden on their families as well.”
To donate to the couple’s campaign, visit www.justgiving.com/eyecarekenya.
* The Goring 10km starts outside Storton Lodge in Icknield Road at 11am tomorrow.
To find out more or register, visit www.goring10k.co.uk.