Mike driven by new challenge after shock of going blind

Mike Peters playing for Wigan in the 1999 alliance Grand Final
Mike Peters playing for Wigan in the 1999 alliance Grand Final
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When former rugby league player Mike Peters went to bed on May 18 last year, he had perfect sight.

He woke the next morning with no vision in his left eye.

Mike Peters and partner Claire have two young daughters

Mike Peters and partner Claire have two young daughters

“And even then, our youngest daughter had just started nursery, so I thought, ‘I must have picked up an eye infection’,” said the Hindley dad-of-two.

What followed were problems with his right eye, several operations, months of uncertainty and countless sleepless nights.

Now, the 37-year-old is – as the opening line of his Just Giving charity page describes – “adapting to living the rest of my life as a blind person.”

“I’m registered fully blind, all I’ve got is the tiniest tunnel in my right eye,” said Peters, who has been told his blindness stems from the type 1 diabetes he has had since his childhood.

“I call it my drinking straw, because that’s exactly what it’s like on a good day.

“At the end of February they told me there was nothing more they could do.

“It’s been tough because it takes so much, things you take for granted.

“I used to moan about the traffic, now I’d love to drive.

“I hadn’t been able to do physical exercise and that had killed me – I’d never got a day without doing something!

“It was hard. At first I couldn’t see how I couldn’t be a burden.

“Claire was having to do everything, do my blood tests... I had days which dragged me down.

“I’ve got my head around it now, but I will never be okay with it. I’ve come to terms with it but I don’t have to be happy about it.

“It’s been a hell of a year and in many ways it’s still early days, because it’s only just become settled.

“I’m finding me feet and I will fill my days with positives.

“What else can I do? I have to crack on with this.

“I’m sick of hearing about all of these things that I will never do again - I want to surprise them.

“I know there are things I want to do, things I want to achieve.”

Which is why, this week, he will embark on his first of several sporting challenges.

He will drive a lap of a race track this Thursday in the hope of raising thousands for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

“Claire got me an early father’s day present, a racing lap for partially sighted and, occasionally, blind people,” he said.

“It’s unassisted, but the car is dual-control so the supervisor can slam on the brakes if he needs to!

“I was made up with the gift, and then I thought, ‘I’ve got a great chance to raise some money here’.

“I’ve declined a guide dog for now, but I met people from the charity and they do such a good job, I wanted to help.”

Peters is well-known in Wigan rugby league circles.

He played in the same Hindley junior team as future internationals Paul Deacon, Jon Clarke and Paul Johnson, and the same town team as Terry Newton.

Wigan signed him up as a teenager and he played for the academy and alliance team, before moving on to Warrington in 2000.

He played 14 Super League for the Wolves and later played for Halifax and in Welsh rugby union, before carving a career in surgical sales which he has since had to give up.

Peters - who has daughters Layla, six, and two-year-old Hallie with his partner Claire - has been blown away by the support he has received.

“You shouldn’t be shocked, knowing what people in the game are like, but everyone has been brilliant,” he said.

“There have been many people I’ve not spoken to in years, and everyone has busy lives, but the bonds that sport create are special.”

Nearly £2,500 has already been raised through Peters’ Just Giving page.

Click here for Mike Peters’ Just Giving page