PAMELA Bird has never let her lack of sight hold her back.
Born blind, the 70-year-old underwent numerous operations in the hope of regaining some of vision before she had even reached her first birthday, but it ended with limited success.
But despite that she has remained determined to live as normal a life as possible – and she doesn’t want anybody’s sympathy, just a little understanding.
And that is why she is spearheading a drive in her home town of Hythe to make people more aware of how difficult it can be to navigate the pavements which she says have become littered with hazards.
Pamela, who is registered blind and now has glaucoma, is keen to make people aware how small changes could make a difference to people like her by allowing her to maintain the independence she values.
The pensioner told how she has found it increasingly difficult to navigate around street furniture largely from cafes encroaching further into the pedestrianised precinct areas.
Despite trying to take up the issue with the local authority, Pamela says her plea has fallen on deaf ears and fears someone will suffer an accident if nothing is done.
A-boards, tables and chairs in pedestrian walkways are a big problem according to Pamela
The main problem, she says, are the tables, chairs and A-boards outside cafes, which are coming further into the pedestrian walkways and are a hazard for visually impaired people.
Pamela claims the problem has got worse in recent months – as the south basked in scorching sunshine - and says hotspots are from the library down the road and between the Post Office and the Waterside Tours operator.
She is not alone. Other visually impaired people she knows have raised similar concerns.
Pamela, of Dibden Purlieu, can only sense light in her right eye and has only a third of her vision remaining in her left eye.
Her blindness was diagnosed at three months old and at nine months she had two operations, which gave her very limited partial sight in her left eye.
Aged five, Pamela was sent away to special school in Exeter and did not return home other than during holidays until she was 16.
Although she had always dreamed of being a nurse, she was told this was not an option due to her sight.
But she has not let it hold her back, taking her first job aged 18 and working throughout her life until she retired to enjoy life on the edge of the New Forest with husband Henry, 71.
However the “menace” of A-boards cluttering the pavements have left her worried to walk alone in to the town centre and Pamela is desperate for action to be taken.
She said: “It’s a nightmare – somebody’s going to get injured. I understand they’re in competition with each other and they have got their business, but people have got to be able to walk properly.
“I don’t want sympathy from anybody, I have lived with this for 70 years, but we do want a bit of thought and understanding.”
Pamela contacted the parish council and Hampshire County Council but felt she has been passed from pillar to post with no answers.
When the Daily Echo contacted Hythe and Dibden Parish Council and New Forest District Council, both claimed this was not their responsibility – and it lay at the door of Hampshire County Council.
Now Cllr Sean Woodward, the county’s Cabinet member responsible for economy, transport and the environment, has promised to act.
He said the matter is now under investigation and warned anyone breaching strict rules would face action.
Cllr Woodward also warned businesses that anyone wishing to place cafe-style furniture in the street in Hythe town centre must have a licence, which is issued by the district council.
“Each request is individually assessed and has to meet a range of criteria, including making sure there is sufficient footway width available for pedestrians and other footway users, such as people with pushchairs and those who are partially sighted are not disadvantaged.”