A PROFOUNDLY blind rower is determined to be an inspiration to other disabled sportsmen and women across the county.

Susannah Barnett, who has been registered blind since birth and only started rowing 12 months ago, has amazed competitors at Worcester Rowing Club by racing in single scull events.

By using a two-way radio to communicate with a sighted oarsman in a boat behind her, Barnett is able to steer her way along courses.

The reigning City of Worcester disability sports person of the year took up the sport after being inspired by her experiences as a Games Maker at London 2012.

As well as rowing, she plays cricket for Old Elizabethans’ visually-impaired team and is also trying to forge links with Worcester Lawn Tennis Club.

Yet rowing has become her passion and she has embraced the sport, despite her disability.

She said: “It’s lovely just to be able to control your own environment to such an extent. Being on the water is something for anybody but if you’re blind, there’s the heightened sensation of everything else that’s going on when there are others on the water as well.

“It gives me an avenue for experiencing control of a moving vehicle because if you don’t drive you never get that sensation.

“The funny thing is, on a boat everybody’s going backwards, so nobody can see any way! It’s been tremendous fun and I just want to keep upping what I do.

“I’ve just become more interested in disability sport the more I’ve done and heard about it. It’s just how to keep setting myself new challenges and getting to a point where I win a race.

“The more people that see me doing it, the greater it will be.”

She has now targeted competing in the prestigious Scullers Head of the River Race, which takes place on the four-and-a-quarter-mile University Boat Race course on the Thames on November 29.

However, because her feet are too small to reach the foot bar in an adult boat, she is currently using a junior boat and is trying to raise £3,000 for a custom-built craft, which could also be used for juniors.

Club captain Dominic O’Loghlin said: “She’s been a great role model. The interesting thing for us is she has actually changed people’s mindset, because people weren’t sure how to take it, but she’s quite tenacious.

“I don’t know how she does it. They are very difficult to sit in and you’ve only got to make a mistake once and you’re quickly tipped out into the water. There’s a lot of faith and it amazes me.”

On the Thames event, he added: “It’s a huge challenge, not just the fact it’s four-and-a-quarter miles, which is big enough, it’s a wide river, very choppy and the conditions can be really rough.”

To help with any sponsorship e-mail Captain@wrc1874.co.uk.