Riley, 11, takes on blindfold challenge to support younger sister

Riley, 11, takes on blindfold challenge to support younger sister

by Julie Tickner, Bradford Chief Reporter


A SCHOOL girl will spend a day blindfolded in support of her little sister who has a rare eye condition.

Bookworm Riley Blissett is most worried about not being able to read during the 12-hour fundraiser and panicked when she lost her bearings during a practice run, but is still determined to raise £1,000 for charity.

The 11-year-old’s younger sister, Tora, has a condition called Aniridia, which has left her blind in one eye and with severe impairment and clouding in the other.

She has used a cane since she was two, is learning Braille and has recently been prescribed thick lensed glasses to try to improve her sight.

Her limited vision means she can make out shapes, but cannot see anything when it’s dark and a small scratch or knock to the eye could destroy her remaining sight.

The seven-year-old is supported by Aniridia Network UK (ANUK) which holds conferences to provide information and support for families dealing with the condition.

“Riley wanted to do something to help and she has a friend called Natalia that she met at one of the conferences and she wanted to give something back,” said mum Susan Blissett, of Cleckheaton, who volunteers at Bradford Toy Library at St Luke’s Hospital.

“We had a practice run for an hour-and-a-half . It went okay, but one thing she found really hard was the boredom. We went to church and she couldn’t see anything, she couldn’t look at anything, so she just sat.

“She’s worried about her books as well – she loves her books, she just eats them and always has one in her hand.”

Riley will be blindfolded from 8am on Thursday, December 18, and will be helped through her day at Howard Park Community School in Cleckheaton by her mum.

She wants to raise money for ANUK, but also awareness of the condition and also a better understanding of what life is like for Tora.

“Tora doesn’t know any different. She just gets up and gets on with it and you wouldn’t know she was blind – she runs round like everyone else” said Mrs Blissett, 36.

“However, it shocked Riley when she was blindfolded. She’s said she’s going to find this quite hard, but she’s going to do it.”

The 11-year-old felt safe when her eyes were covered at home, but panicked when she was taken out, her mum said.

“I’m really proud of her. I think it’s a big ask of someone her age. I know she’ll do it, when she puts her mind to it, it’s really important,” said Mrs Blissett.

The family, including Gordon Clapham and three-year-old Zac Clapham, live near the school in Howard Park, Cleckheaton.

Tora’s condition is stable for now, but the family does not know how long for. She has regular appointments at Dewsbury and District Hospital and Great Ormand Street in London.

Riley can be sponsored at

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