Sedgefield borough councillor David Newell raised more than £1,800 for charity by going blind for a week.

Councillor Newell wore a blindfold for seven days, and was sponsored to raise money for St Dunstan's, a charity which provides care for armed forces personnel blinded and injured during active service.

Prime Minister Tony Blair started the event by placing the blindfold and making a donation.

Coun Newell was under Army guard for a week, with the help of Private David Robson from the Army's Royal Logistic Corps, to make sure he did not cheat.

The blindfold was removed at the Remembrance Service in Ferryhill.

By the end of the event, Coun Newell had raised £1,834 for St Dunstan's.

He presented the cheque to Jimmy Higginbottom, at Sedgefield Borough Council's offices in Spennymoor, on Monday.

Mr Higginbottom, 83, served in the Army's Royal Ordnance Corps during the Second World War. He lost his sight in a mortar bomb attack at Anzio, Italy, in 1944.

He said: "It is wonderful to know that we have not been forgotten."

St Dunstan's has also cared for casualties of the Falklands, Gulf, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts.

Speaking of his experience, Coun Newell said: "A week without sight was very difficult and stressful. I suffered from depression, anxiety and panic attacks. I just wanted to withdraw into myself and felt very lonely and helpless.

"Communicating with people was difficult, especially in noisy situations, and from the experience I realise we must use lip reading to a great extent."

He said: "Private Robson was a great help and support. He found the challenge of being a carer difficult. On a personal level, it has been a life-changing experience that I will never forget."