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Sore fingers after vicar’s marathon Braille reading

28 June 2024


The Revd Alex Galbraith reads in Braille

The Revd Alex Galbraith reads in Braille

A VICAR in Southport, Merseyside, undertook a marathon New Testament reading from Braille last Saturday: a fund-raising event to help to safeguard a sustainable future for the building and congregation of St Francis of Assisi, Kew, a C of E/Methodist LEP.

The Vicar, the Revd Alex Galbraith, has been registered blind since birth. Chemotherapy after a terminal cancer diagnosis two-and-a-half years ago damaged the vestige of sight which he had, and he now sees just light and dark. The treatment also left his fingertips inclined to soreness and sensitivity, but he read all four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles over a 16-hour period, punctuated only by two 15-minute breaks.

“I did experiment with surgical gloves that I got from the dentist, but fortunately my finger held out,” he said on Monday. So, too, did his legs, dispelling his wife’s worries that they might seize up and cause thrombosis — another concern after the chemo. He just “had to get up and jump about every few hours”, he said.

Previous fund-raising endeavours have included white-water rafting, climbing Snowdon, and aeroplane acrobatics: he suggests that jumping out of a plane is probably less daunting when you’re blind.

“I’ve always found blindness as being a gift, in a way, and I’ve tried to treat cancer in the same way,” he said. “I’d rather be able to see, and I wish I didn’t have cancer, but I’ve been able to speak and visit and understand people in a way I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do.”

His prognosis is between six and 12 months, and, in the certain knowledge that there won’t be a full-time incumbent in the future, he intends to die in service at St Francis’s, where he has been Vicar since 1997.

He read to an appreciative audience. “It’s a new church, and not very big, but people could hear me, and I kept my expression up, because that’s how I like to read aloud,” he said. One of the symptoms of his cancer is that his voice can be weak, and he experiences tiredness; but, after a day off from preaching on Sunday, his voice survived.

The total raised so far, through JustGiving, on Monday, was more than £1600; the modest target was £1000. “It’s been a good response,” he said, expressing gratitude to his wife and to everybody who came along to support him on the day.

“I’ve been at the church a long time, and I love and care for it, and want to do all I can to give it a sustainable future. The money will help the church just to keep going. It’s a very small congregation, but it serves a large community, and new members are always made very welcome.”


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