Warrant Officer Mac McGearey, who serves in the Royal Tank Regiment and is due to ship out to Afghanistan in June, has a blind daughter who contracted meningitis when she was just three days old. This left her blind and suffering from, one gathers, a range of other disabilities.
At first Ciara, who is now 13, was educated at the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh. Then McGearey was posted to Suffolk. Now he and his family have been posted back to Edinburgh, the City Council is refusing to pay for his daughter to return to the Royal Blind School, insisting instead that she be enrolled at a different school that, whatever its merits, does not specialise in educating blind children. The Council has refused to change its mind even though an independent tribunal has ruled that a place at the RBS is in the best interests of the child. Now the Council is appealing that ruling.
Warrant Officer McGearey, who has already done a tour in Iraq and has served in the army for 23 years, has been granted leave and began a 500-mile sponsored walk around Scotland yesterday. He hopes to raise £20,000 for his daughter's education, money that will at least see her back at the royal Blind School until he ships out to Afghanistan this summer.