Northern Ireland news

Former winner of The Voice on a mission to break down barriers for the blind

Andrea Begley has just finished a tour with her aunt, Irish country singer Philomena Begley

A FORMER winner of BBC talent show The Voice is on a mission to break down barriers for blind and partially sighted people in Northern Ireland.

Andrea Begley from Pomeroy, Co Tyrone has taken on a role with the Royal National Institute of Blind (RNIB) to "empower people with sight loss to thrive and help break down barriers in society".

The 32-year-old singer, who is blind, will be chairperson of the charity's network committee - a group of 11 members of the community uniting their areas of expertise to ensure sight loss charity RNIB fulfils its objectives.

Ms Begley has glaucoma - an eye condition that affects pressure within the eye and means that she only has approximately 10 per cent of her vision remaining.

She shot to fame in 2013 when she won the Voice UK. She has just finished a tour with her aunt, Irish country singer Philomena Begley, and released a new single 'Beyond the Rainbow's End' - a cover of Daniel O'Donnell's song.

She said as an RNIB NI volunteer for 13 years, she is "absolutely honoured to be an ambassador".

"Growing up as a young person with sight loss, I know first-hand, the challenges and problems you can experience," she said.

"Barriers need to be broken down for people with sight loss and awareness needs to be raised in society.

"In delivering this, we can bring about change and this is crucial.

"If we can ensure that blind and partially sighted people are at the forefront of people's minds, particularly of those in government when bringing out new legislation, then accessibility will be considered."

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