“Inspirational” Matthew is raising money for his trip of a lifetime

Matthew O'Leary is raising money for his trip.

Matthew O'Leary is raising money for his trip. - Credit: Archant

A visually impaired schoolboy described as “inspirational” by his mum has been selected for the trip of a lifetime.

Matthew O’Leary, who celebrated his 16th birthday on May 11, will travel to Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands in July as part of a project organised by the charity, Journey of a Lifetime (JOLT).

Matthew, of Loves Farm, St Neots, was put forward for the trip by consultants who are treating him at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

The teenager was born with just 10 per cent of vision in one eye, which was picked up at a routine eight-week check. He has since developed a blood disorder, which was discovered after he underwent a tonsil operation. He and his mum make regular visits to Addenbrooke’s where his blood is checked to see if he needs more treatment.

Despite spending a lot of time in and out of hospital, he manages to attend mainstream school, where he uses Braile to read and write, and he is about to sit his GCSEs exams. He hopes to go on to complete a media studies course, which starts at Cambridge Regional College in September.

Matthew’s mum, Kimberley, said: “He has such a positive attitude to life and he is my inspiration. I would not cope with things half as well as I do if it wasn’t for Matthew. He is always smiling and he just bounces back from things. I am so proud of him.”

The four-week trip costs £5,000 as it needs to include volunteers who are medically trained as all the youngsters have learning disabilities or health issues. Matthew has to fund some of the cost himself and has organised several fundraising events in the last few weeks.

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He held a cake stall at his school, Comberton Village College, and has organised raffles, auctions and a blindfold penalty competition. Kimberley also wrote to local businesses to ask for raffle prizes and says she received a lot of support.

She said: “I couldn’t believe how generous the businesses were, it was wonderful. Matthew, who is a massive Spurs fan, came up with the idea of wearing a different team’s football shirt for a day. Wearing another team’s shirt was a big deal for him, especially when it came to the Arsenal shirt.”

INFO: If you would like to donate a raffle prize or item for auction, contact Kimberley on: 07889 912625 or Jayne: on 07976 647835.

If you would like to make a donation, go to: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/matthew-oleary02.