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First of all can I ask what the nature of your disability is as you would describe it?

Ok so I’m visually impaired yeah not totally blind but my vision’s gone enough that it
makes a difference to my everyday life.
Oh alright so we will start at the beginning. When and where were you born?
I was born in Cambridge at the Rosie Maternity Hospital at Addenbrookes and that
was in May 1990.
Whereabouts in Cambridge did you live?
I lived in Duxford just opposite the airfield, so the old RAF base there so it was the
old camp which is slightly removed from Duxford village itself now the M11 now splits
them both.
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Yeah I’ve got one sister, yeah she’s about three and half years younger than me.
And what do your Mum and your Dad, your parents do for a living?
What did they do? So when I was born.
Yes
So when I was born my Dad he was a warehouseman so he worked for Sainsburys
in the warehouse in Buntingford and my mum she, what did she do when I was
born.... I think she was working in a textile, in the textile industry, I think that’s the job
she was doing yeah.
What was your early childhood like, do you have any like, memories or anything that
particularly stand out?
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My memory is not fantastic my parents were quite young and you have the sort of
economic problems in the early 90s it was black Wednesday or black Friday or
something like that. So I think it was very difficult for my parents with a young kid,
two young kids, young parents with a young kid it was very difficult for them so they
worked all the hours under the sun, my Dad worked very hard and Mum worked very
hard and, and I think they worked very hard to keep the mortgage repayments going
and things like that so er... I guess it wasn’t the most affluent childhood but I can’t
complain I was well loved and I guess well brought up. I remember we went to the
local primary school that was the neighbouring village Thriplow, and yeah the family
was always... my mums family they all lived in Melbourn and my Dad’s family they
were a bit more dispersed say from South Cambs North Hertfordshire that sort of
area spread across the bigger area but we were all quite close and saw each other
fairly regularly when I was younger.
Where did you... so you went to school in Melbourn?
I went to primary school in Thriplow.
Thriplow. Where did you go to after that?
I went to Sawston, Sawston Village College because there was a bus that took us all
there, that was good.
And whereabouts after that?
After that I went to Long Road Sixth Form College and then ultimately my education
last stop in the education was at Anglia Ruskin.
What was Long Road like did you enjoy it there?

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Long Road was great I had a great time there actually cos em I don’t know I guess
growing up and being a teenager is sort of, a little bit of it’s about finding out who you
are and maybe lots of changes socially and who you are and this sort of stuff so I
remember secondary school wasn’t such fun but I don’t know at Sixth Form I was a
lot more confident, a lot more comfortable in myself and had a really great time there
was... we went out and obviously it’s the sort of time as well where you learnt to
drive, I passed my driving test. You do things like go out you can start to drink and
those sorts of things as well and you go out to house parties it’s about that sort of
time of your life I guess, 16, 17, 18 and yeah you do all these stupid things like I
don’t know like maybe the first time you drink you don’t realise the ill effects of
alcohol and you maybe have a stupid incident with your friends or end up in a field in
the early hours of the morning... something daft like that, yeah I had a really good
time at Sixth form actually.
What did you study at Sixth form?
As I say I was sort of like finding, going from secondary school to sixth form I sort of
had that moment where I realised a few things and I guess at secondary school I still
had the idea that I had to do what others perceived as right, so er at secondary
school, when I made my choices I was thinking about choosing things like Business
Studies, IT and all these things that seemed to be the right things for careers and all
this sort of stuff because I felt there was a lot of pressure that I was meant to have a
career now..... and yeah so I was balancing maybe doing what I think I was
supposed to do over what I wanted to do and erm I didn’t really try for my GCSEs I
scraped through and in my first year at sixth form I already had to retake my English
GCSE as I didn’t revise at all at secondary school, managed to scrape through my
English GCSE my first year of sixth form then dropped environmental science and
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business studies and all these other things I picked because I thought they were the
right thing to do and when I started again my second year at Long Road I started off
my AS levels and picked exactly what I wanted so I just thought sod it I don’t want to
do what I think I guess society is telling me to, I don’t want to have a career mapped
out I just want to do what I want so I just picked media studies, film studies, history
and geography perfect balance of academia and I guess what I’m into! And yeah so I
did the two years of that and yeah had a great time doing it so both inside the
lessons and outside the lessons I had a really great time.
Brilliant, did those... so the interest like in media and film did that mirror what you
were into like outside of college and stuff: are you a bit of a film buff or into TV or
anything like that?
Yes there are certain things I enjoyed I don’t know maybe buff’s a bit too much but at
the time definitely I was sort of a big video gamer I watched, I did watch a lot of films,
loved music, basic popular culture and maybe in a slightly fringe cult thing, at that
age I was into that sort of thing in a really big way, yeah.
Did you have like a favourite film or favourite TV series and stuff when you were
growing up or..?
I certainly had, I had em... I certainly had a favourite band I guess. I guess they are
one of those things they are of their time I think, Bowling for Soup. As a teenager I
loved them and ... maybe shouldn’t like them anymore but I still love them because
they hold that special place from when I was 13,14,15 and that band will probably
carry on with me and I hope to see them year after year or as long as they want to
keep coming across the Atlantic cos they are such good fun!

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So what did you do when you finished your A levels?
So well when I finished my A levels that’s when my sight started to go. So em whilst I
was revising for my A level exams in my third and final year at Long Road round
about the May time my sight was starting to deteriorate so I had just enough sight left
to finish writing my last A level exam and it was funny where Long Road is and
where the hospital is they are right across the road from it, so when I was revising I
would go to the beginning of the day maybe have a revision session then I would
pop across between sessions maybe have a CT scan or an MRI scan or something
then pop back and continue my last revision of the day or something like that I would
be shoehorning all these crazy operations and procedures in between revision
sessions and er.... yeah its just its a bit mad I guess but I finished my A levels and I
guess immediately afterwards I spent a fortnight in hospital just having more tests
and procedures and this sort of thing because they wanted to bring me in hospital
before my last A level ... I am just across the road I’ll finish my last A level exam then
you’ve got me I’m all yours and er! Yeah so I did this and spent a fortnight in
hospital. Had this Thorpe Park trip that I’d planned with my friends to do afterwards
postponed which is sensible, did a music festival all while my sight was deteriorating.
Eventually I got a diagnosis a long time after my sight stopped deteriorating because
they lost the blood result that would have diagnosed it and I had to have another one
and all this sort of stuff but it was roughly between May and September when my
sight deteriorated from fully sighted to the level it is now and so I guess in the year
after Long Road I just, my gap year was getting used to living with a visual
impairment I guess, I could have gone to Cambodia but it probably would have made
that a bit more difficult. But no it’s yeah that’s what I did after my sixth form days.
How did you first notice that your sight was deteriorating?
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It was when I was playing video games with my friends I used to always like playing
the football series FIFA and things like that and em yeah I’d be playing it and I’d
always think the brightness and the contrast was going on my TV and I’d sort of
pause the game get up and fiddle around with it a little bit, my mate would say ‘what
are you doing? Are you just sort of losing or something..?’ and yeah we’d both we
talking a bit like that but no no there was definitely something wrong with the TV and
er.. then another time was I guess there were lots of separate instances when that
gave me clues my sight was going and er one time when I was driving my car I was,
my ex-girlfriend was in the car beside me and er yeah we were driving back to hers
from mine in Duxford and er I just went to pull up from this roundabout and yeah she
was ‘woah woah what are you doing?’ and I was saying ‘what do you mean’ ‘did you
not see that bike!?’ And I was ‘what bike’ maybe you shouldn’t be driving so then I
had, I think I initially went to the opticians and er this was when I first really realised
that something was wrong cos the optician what he did was he did the whole thing
where he had the eyesight chart in front of you and when I had both eyes open I was
able to read a fair bit and thought oh maybe I just need some reading glasses or
something and then em he got me to cover my right eye and I was shocked that I
could only read the top two lines of the eyesight chart with my left eye. I was like that
seems quite serious that’s quite something and er yes with my right eye I was able to
read maybe not all of it but down quite far and he recommended that I get some
reading glasses but all the reading glasses did was just amplify it so he also put in a
request for me to go to my doctors, doctors did urine test, blood test all these sorts of
things that a doctors surgery can possibly do with all the equipment there then I was
referred onto the hospital that’s when I started having the hospital trips to and from
Long Road and er yeah it was hospital who did all these weird and wonderful things

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to me like a lumbar puncture, chest x-ray, ultra sound, MRI scan, CT scans it was a
full body MOT almost, for me to go off to the lumbar puncture actually I had these
guys come up to me and they took 30 separate blood tests - blood samples from
me! I thought how much more fluid do these guys want! They’ve got it off my spinal
cord and they are now are going for half a pint of blood! That’s crazy, but yeah
eventually it was a simple blood test that diagnosed me em after all that yeah and as
I say the blood test they initially lost!
So when did you actually get your diagnosis then? Had you finished your A levels at
that point?
Yeah I finished I got my last A Level then went to fortnight in hospital and then once I
was out of hospital did fun things for myself and before my friends went to Uni then
got my results as everyone else would so about 6 years now actually and then I was
due to get my diagnosis around about September time and I guess it was about May
sort of time when I started to deteriorate but that’s when they got to the blood tests
so I think it was about October/November time by the time I got my diagnosis.
How did you handle doing your A Levels when you were, when your sight was
deteriorating like that? It seems, I think it just it seems you had a lot of dedication.
I guess I was doing as long as I could continue writing on the paper and reading
things, they blew the papers up to A3 size, the exam boards gave me special
considerations and I had my own room, magnifying glass, they really helped me out
a lot they allowed me to do a lot of adaptations to help me do the exams and I was
very grateful for that, I am pretty sure I might have gone out of the lines a few times
on my last exam because I remember I think I wrote about 14 pages! And I would
never write 14 pages, but yes I still got decent grades and I think at the time I felt as
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long as I can do it em, that it’s not that much of a bother er and er yeah I think that’s
honestly how I felt about it really em most of my friends who made a joke about it
really said I was some sort of inspector with my magnifying glass and all this sort of
thing and I started just going a bit rubbish yeah and I think cos I have always seen
the humour and lightened the situation I think it encourages everyone else to feel the
same.
So what was your diagnosis?
It’s a rare genetic condition called Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy. It’s a bit of a
mouthful! But yeah it’s just quite a rare thing I think.
So what does that entail, what does that do?
So the mitochondria in my optic nerve don’t work properly I don’t really know the
science behind it that well but em I think it means that the signal, on the face of it
when ever anyone was inspecting my eye, my eye looks fine medically it all looks
fine there is no reason, my retina is fine, all my cones and rods all act in the right
way, seemingly there is a signal going through my optic nerve and this is what
baffled people so much and why I spent so long in hospital but then there was this
rare really weird thing with the mitochondria that somehow messes up that signal, I
think that’s the best way of describing it I always like to think of it as like lemmings
that maybe have a hole in the bridge and just keep falling down!
Yeah!! [laughing]
But I think that’s the science behind it, I’m not an expert but yeah I think that’s it.
So was there any treatment offered to you or was there anything that they could do?

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I think it was so rare I think there was not that many studies going on in the field
really, there is a place up in, they told me about this place up in Newcastle em where
as long as I’ve known that I’ve had this condition they have been studying about it up
in Newcastle em there is this pill that apparently reduces the symptoms of this type
of Leber’s and I am slightly cautious to accept these things because I don’t know, I
don’t know how much of a placebo affect it might have on people and that is quite a
powerful thing I don’t how powerful a placebo affect can work whether it can make
people feel like their visual impairment is not quite as bad whether that would be
possible I’m not sure but erm, there’s not really much of a cure out there really or
there isn’t really much they can do about it em, yeah I think because there are also
lots of types of strands of... I think they call it the scientific name is mutation so
depending on what gene mutation you have er it depends on how rare it is again, I
have got the rarest gene mutation so I guess in that top trumps competition I win!
And er but I think it might also mean that it’s also slightly more tricky I’m not sure but
er but yeah I don’t as I say I haven’t really looked into these sorts of things to clarify
these questions.
So your sight stabilized after the 4 months deterioration is that right?
Yes.
And is that kind of like normal for that condition.
Yeah yeah so the deterioration would happen over a period and then it stabilized. It
usually... my eyesight is probably quite bad for someone who has got this but I do
know some people who have got it and they have got no sight at all. And other
people it might just affect just their central vision, it does vary and I think that might
be partly to do with the gene mutation that means you have it.
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So when I presume you got the diagnosis sometime around perhaps September
time? Would that be right?
Yes about that time yeah.
What were you.... you said you were taking a gap year anyway were you?
No I hadn’t got a clue what I was going to do after Sixth form I wasn’t looking forward
to it to be honest, em, I remember the lead up to the end of sixth form I felt, I don’t
know, maybe perhaps a fear of growing up becoming an adult! And I was, I’ve now
got to get a career I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do something for 40 years that I
probably, I had a really bleak negative outlook on life, to do something for 40 years I
am not going to be enjoying, what is this? And this seems horrible my goal and
ambition and dream in life was to work in HMV at that time. I was thinking I don’t ask
for riches, I don’t ask for this that and the other all I want is a modest job and a
modest life and as long as I haven’t got any stress and I can pay the bills and things I
am happy, that’s all that matters! And yeah I still have part of that attitude but maybe
not quite so negative thinking oh I have the rest of my life doing something I don’t
enjoy... all this sort of stuff I think my sight going was you know, in quite a strange
way something that happened to me I don’t know, I hesitate to say it but it’s
something that happened to me that was in a weird way quite good for me. Erm
because yeah because it gave me a much more positive outlook on life I was able to
realise, I never considered disability before so if you asked me at the age of 18 what
blindness was like I would be oh the lights go out that’s it isn’t it, must be really crap,
but I don’t know actually finding out what having a visual impairment is like and
finding out how other visually impaired people do things the variety of visual
impairments the range of sight that people have, the way visually impaired people do

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things on a day to day basis, all of this sort of thing, finding out that at that age, I
don’t know if that’s maybe a slightly patronising way that society looks upon visually
impaired people that I had at that time being a fully sighted person for the majority of
my life, but whatever it was those combination of things at that time in my life really
helped me change my attitude to life, made me a lot more positive and I think it was
very, it gets perversely quite good for me! And yeah I’m not sure I would have asked
for the majority of my sight to go but I don’t know it’s to roll with it I guess and er
[laughing] and see what happens!
So what – to what extent is your sight affected?
So like it’s across my field, my deterioration is across my full field of vision it’s just
a... the best way to describe it is I don’t know its difficult to think of the best way to
describe it, it’s really low contrast across my full field of vision so at the moment er
maybe it’s getting a bit dark in here but I can’t really see very much at all, maybe I
can vaguely make out what are your arms but I can’t see your head at all, I think I
can see your arms because of the contrast with your shirt. So contrast works well,
em but yeah I can’t see your face or any of your facial features just well defined
things are too difficult I can’t read any text or see someone’s face in the street or em
so facial recognitions gone that sort of thing em, I can sometimes make out the
contrast between the grass and the pavement but that’s quite rare it’s maybe a bit,
it’s not well defined enough and I can see, it’s not like it’s just becoming more dim
like the brightness is going on TV, it’s just like the contrast is going down so I can still
see colours, quite often the wrong colours em but that’s probably the best way to
describe it I think it’s really difficult to describe so I have probably made a bit of a
muddle of it.

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No that’s fascinating it really is. How did your family react to this?
They reacted....trying to think of the right words.... their reaction was nothing like
mine... they felt a lot of guilt, a lot of anger I guess a lot of the negative emotions you
associate with something like this happening and yeah it was quite .. that was one of
the most difficult things for me it was quite uncomfortable for me to see how they
were reacting in a negative way about it. Em yeah that wasn’t nice... I am happy to
talk about it, well anything but yeah there were lots of argument there were... it was
they dealt with it not so well at all I don’t think.
What about your friends?
My friends they dealt with it almost with me leading the way so I was like, well come
on lets just carry on doing everything the way we used to I am going to have to show
you how to sighted guide me and I will work it out along the way while you’re working
it out, they always took it in their stride fairly well to be honest. I think yeah I guess
my friendships remained quite natural in that sense in that I was coming towards the
end of sixth form I was going to probably naturally going to stop seeing a lot of these
people anyway as we all head off in different directions to go to University and jobs
and things like that so I think that naturally happened like it would for anybody but
the friends I did stay in touch with they were really good, they kept seeing me in
hospital, I went to Thorpe Park, I went to a music festival, both things whilst I had a
bit more sight than I do now but whilst my sight was deteriorating so they were able
to help me out, guide me around and yeah they dealt with it really well I think. Em,
and yeah I am trying to think other people em..... my girlfriend at the time she was
incredibly helpful to me just incredibly she stayed with me for a few years afterwards
and she went above and beyond what she had to or needed to do em... in fact she

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definitely did it’s almost as though she became a little bit like my carer maybe that
was part of the reason why we are not together anymore but we are still really good
friends, and but yeah no it was really helpful at the time it was very helpful and a lot
of my closest friends just dealt with it I guess, just went along with it and, I don’t
know, it was really good.
Brilliant, so em... so when you got your diagnosis you were just about to start your
gap year what did you end up doing, where did you go to next?
After the gap year?
No during the gap year.
Ok so I guess the first port of call that I did, cause the statutory sector the services I
was going to get them from them was going to take a long ... I went to the local
charity for the blind and visually impaired, Camsight. And Camsight were fantastic,
cause what I really wanted at that stage was to just continue doing the things that I
used to be able to. I wasn’t sure how you were going to be able to do this but I was
aware you could, and Camsight were really good at showing me how to do this so I
met this guy there who showed me how to touch type, use screen reading software
and these things are fantastic, I remember the first time I went back onto Facebook
myself and wrote my own status saying this is the first, this is the first status I’ve
written since my sight has gone, I put something up like that and all the comments...
I was saying ‘oh god’ this was the sign of things to come. And yeah just learning how
to touch type and use screen reading software that was so helpful for me to continue
using the internet for me to be able to ultimately do everything I’ve done from that
point to now really. A lot of it revolves around technology so that was a great help
and what Camsight also did, they also helped me continue doing my hobbies and
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interests, I was a keen cyclist I really like cycling but I have not got enough sight to
do that anymore, so they teamed up with a lot of local organisations like the Mayor,
the Courts, the City Rangers, this other local charity OWL who refurbish bikes and er
they refurbished a tandem that they loaned to me and it was absolutely fantastic it
means I can just cycle... can just continue doing that it was fantastic. So yeah they
were an absolutely terrific help, really I can’t begin to emphasize how helpful they
were. And then later on in the year sort of before Christmas the statutory sector
finally got back in touch with me there was a huge waiting list simply because they
were understaffed and under-funded, and which I later found out from hindsigh,t but I
met this guy who was really helpful again he had such a great attitude he had met a
lot of other young visually impaired people there is one conversation I had with him
there that I wish I had a different attitude about because he asked me about sport at
the time and he said I know a few young people play this sport goal ball, would you
want to give it.... I said oh no you throw a ball in my direction it would bounce off me
or something, I have done a few kickabouts with my mates but I am not really that
good at it and all this sort of stuff but I wish I accepted it there and then because I
have later gone onto play and its become this thing that’s taken over my life, I love
goalball now, but I wish I had played it then but this guy initially in the winter after my
sight went he sort of showed me basically I guess what they call mobility training and
cane training so he showed me a few routes around to my bus stop around my local
area around Cambridge and because I already had a pretty .... when I was younger I
was a bit of a geek and read maps and all this weird stuff, that actually came in
handy a lot because I knew, I had this mental map of Cambridge in my head so I
was able to follow where I am according to this mental map of Cambridge in my
head and my map of Cambridge is absolutely brilliant I will walk around and always

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know where I am so that was really helpful but he showed me how to use the cane
so the sort of technique just simple things that I guess are difficult for me to
remember now because I just take them for granted so... at the time I wasn’t so
confident I was quite a lot more nervous, a bit more shy, a bit more withdrawn, a bit
more introvert I guess, which seems strange now, but I was and I remember I had to
go up to this group of people at this crossing because there was just a random
crossing in the middle of Cambridge I think between Christ’s pieces and the walkway
to the Lion Yard so there’s no lights or anything like that you’ve got to go when it’s
empty and he was like right when you come up to a crossing like this you need to
just ask someone that’s sometimes what you have to do so he just stood back and I
had to go and ask someone I was like who am I going to ask this is terrifying oh god I
don’t want to speak to people I hate this! So I went up to this first group of people I
found and said can I cross and the people I asked they were like ‘what?’ they didn’t
know what I was saying because they were foreign and didn’t speak a word of
English! It was a horrendous situation! But I’ve since become a lot better at it and
just asking people for things like that has become something that’s been quite
second nature to me really. And yeah I guess they were the initial things I did in that
gap year but I also started doing a lot of fundraising so I held a fundraising quiz for
Camsight which I have since gone onto do another 6 times and that was fantastic I
managed to get all these raffle prizes, tickets for Cambridge Rugby Club, the
Picturehouse, Junction, the Corn Exchange, I got music festival tickets, restaurant
voucher tickets all of these amazing prizes and I had friends and family there and we
raised a hell of a lot of money for Camsight and it was a fantastic event and I did that
around about the May after my sight went so about a year after my sight first started
to deteriorate that’s what I was doing and then I had some sort of crazy idea about

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April/May time in 2010, sort of about a year after my sight started to go right what do
I want to do now? What shall do with all these touch typing screen reading skills that
I had become alright at, I thought what shall I do with them so I was like maybe going
to Uni might be a good idea so I learnt to be a bit more , learnt to socialize at a level
got kind of recognised faces, learnt to guess a write a full article, do my own
research, analyse all these things but with a visual impairment, I’d never really done
anything serious. Well I don’t know I guess I had but I had never really done anything
in terms of I guess skills for like a job or skills for life or skills like in these sorts of
ways that I guess I could use in a professional context, I had never tried to do
anything like this with my visual impairment so far so I thought well it’s been a year
now let’s give it a go so I’d done the cane training the touch typing, all this sort of
stuff so I thought lets do it, I learnt Braille, grade one Braille, grade 2 is far too
difficult I’m never gonna learn that! But grade one at least I could play cards. So I
have got the essentials! And er yeah it’s so I just went, applied started to apply for
Uni and managed to scrape in through clearing which is fantastic.
Brilliant so what attracted you to do history?
It was just an interest I had and yeah it’s an interest I had and that was mainly it
really. It wasn’t so much the course that I was interested in, it was more going to
University I was interested in, and so in that case just doing, doing, I had always
toyed with the idea of being a history teacher but at that stage I hadn’t really begun
to comprehend what sort of job I could get because I didn’t know much about visual
impairment, I didn’t know much about what job prospects were like, what jobs
visually impaired people did, all of this sort of thing. I didn’t really know so I just
wanted to improve what skills I had and hope they would come in useful and yeah
that’s why I chose history really.
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What was University like, did you enjoy it?
It was, incredibly, I found it incredibly enjoyable. I had obviously had lots of very
stressful moments em, I think that’s part of the course em what I found was that
living with a visual impairment, what I quickly found out was you have to organise
and plan like nothing else. This is something I was not used to beforehand. I found
that I had to get into a routine where, well to be able to work on the same level as
everybody else I had to get into a routine, excuse me. Where, I asked for my module
guides in an accessible format, a good fortnight before the beginning of the first, any
second semester then I would go through the module guides, have a look at the
questions, have a look in the books that I would need for those questions, the week
before the semester from about 7 in the morning until 11 in the evening every day
Monday to Sunday I just spent scanning these books onto my computer relentlessly,
there were services you could use like, there was this service where you could go
into a library, you were supposed to be able to get any book you want provided in
whatever format you want and you don’t have to do that. But that takes so long that
by the time I’d have got the book in the format I want it would be weeks and weeks
into the semester so I quickly found out that you couldn’t just pick up a book browse
through it and oh alright that’s the bit I want so to be able to have that option of just
going to a book, into a chapter, I had to format everything on my computer perfectly
so the books were saved in separate folders inside their module folder inside the
year folder so you had a folder for the years, module, book, and then a separate one
for the assignment so for the module assignment then if it was in the format you
know, then you can just dip into whatever you want, I quickly found this out and
maybe it was a bit of a harsh realisation but doing the course was something I was

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determined to do like nothing else. I’d never been so determined to do something
ever, maybe I wanted to prove that I could, but yeah.
I suppose you’ve got to memorize a lot more studying like that. Do you find like your
memory improved because of it?
Yeah, yeah I think I certainly used my memory like I never have and yeah because
you have to I remember.. I ... it dawned on me towards the end of the first semester,
the first year, we had no exam for the first year but towards the end of the first year it
dawned on me that when it starts to count in the second year I am going to have
exams to do and I’ve never done an exam with a visual impairment, so I was that’s
going to be incredibly difficult, how on earth am I going to do this. So what I did was I
organised a mock exam just for myself at the end of the first year on one of the
modules I’d done in the second semester of the first year. So I could prepare and
just work out the best strategy and I remember going to the exam department, the
student services department for disabled students and I was talking to one of the
officers there and I was saying so how would I do this would I be able to do on a
laptop or screen so I can just type away... I had a study support person who would
sort of make notes in lectures and things and I said would she be able to come in
and just read the question to me and I just type it out? No you are going to do it by
amanuensis and I was like sorry? I don’t speak latin. I had no idea what it was but
she was like didn’t you do this at school you have to dictate. I had never done this
before the dictation would be incredibly difficult for me, I have never had to write an
exam like that before so I got pretty stressed. I explained my situation, look can you
not do it in any other situation this is a bit of a maybe a unique situation but I started
this uni course a year after my sight went but it would be so alien for me I simply
wouldn’t be able to do it! And eventually I managed to argue that i was able to get to
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do an exam on my own laptop typing it up in a much more natural way for me. But I
still had the problem I guess of revising, memorizing something. So I found the best
way to do an exam was a few weeks before the exam, however many questions I
would have in the exam, I would write three practice answers for each question in
the exam and then I would memorize them almost sentence by sentence, word by
word and just all the references and things like that and just churn out one of them
whichever question comes up in the exam so that was actually quite a tough thing. I
remember the first exam I had had three questions so I had to memorize 9 answers
so about 9 2-3 page answers it was so difficult, I managed to do it but it was so hard
again like with the scanning of all the books I had to sit there in front of my laptop just
listening to my screenreader again and again, reciting it, going back over stuff,
reciting it, going over in my head, maybe getting my sister to look at it as I recited it
back to her as I get better at it and my ex-girlfriend I had her sitting at the computer
as I recited it to her and oh it was so difficult but again just doing it relentlessly from
about 7 in the morning til about 11 in the evening usually did the trick and yeah I was
able to learn these exams and things. So yeah you do use your memory in quite a
different way I guess and perhaps it means you can use your memory to a greater
extent than with other people who don’t need to use it quite as much as you.
Did you find that when you were... it just occurred to me because you were writing in
a different way, a different kind of like technical way. Did you find the stuff that you
were writing for university was different in say style than what you were writing when
you were doing your A levels?
Em I certainly think I could write a lot more. My touch typing became quite good
while I was at university and my screen reading also became quite good so yeah. I
was listening to my screen reader at an audible pace - I could get my phone what to
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do an example of it if you want but er - I was listening to my screen reader at an
audible so it just blabs along so someone listening to it as you go by would quite
often go ‘how do you understand that?, what is it saying?’ and I remember the first
time I went to Camsight actually and heard this guy using screen reading software I
had the same reaction I was like do I need to tune my hearing into some inaudible
beep that’s just beyond me? I don’t know this seems mad to me. But I soon found
out the more you use it the quicker you can make it and you can start using it at a
very fast pace. So yeah I think I was able to write quite a lot, that’s quite a big
difference that happened when I was typing but I don’t know I think my style may
have changed quite naturally just as it would if I could see I think.
How easy did you actually find it to go to University? Was there a lot of, a kind of
assistance there as and when you needed it on the staff? Did you feel it was very
inclusive or...?
Yeah they were fantastic actually. So I had this person who followed me throughout
my full 3 years there and she wrote all the lecture notes, she did quite a lot actually
and I think, I think it was set up to be very inclusive and I think the reason why
maybe I struggled socially with the group was maybe because, maybe because it
was such an unusual thing for me to do - meet up with a whole group of new people
with my sight at the level it was which did end up with me I guess just hanging
around with the study support assistant. I never had that throughout my whole
schooling so I’d met up with her before, with my SSA in effect, before I, before I
started doing my lectures so I already knew her so when I got to lectures so then it
felt comfortable and natural to sit next to her and that just kept going on and on and
on. I mean I got on very well with her, we had similar interests in films and we were
different generations but we sort of got on and enjoyed each others company but I
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guess I didn’t really immerse myself in the social side of uni until maybe it was a bit
too late, maybe everyone had already formed cliques and bonds, I still like went out
with a few people once I eventually got around to making I guess, a bit of an effort
but I think it was, I speak to a lot of... I think it was partly me having only just lost a lot
of my sight. Partly me in myself and also I speak to a lot of visually impaired people, I
know a lot of visually impaired people know, other young people and a lot of people
who go to uni in the first year they say its incredibly difficult for the social side of
things, for a lot of different things, for all the things I talked about, for the whole
organisation, you have to go through preparations you need to make, trying to get
things in an accessible format, I think universities could do a lot better job in many
ways to make the whole experience a lot more accessible but for me personally I
think partly the unique situation of having recently lost my sight and just finding it a
bit difficult I guess to socialise in myself.
Well it sounds like it was quite a full-time job as well with all the reading and stuff like
that. What did you do when you finished university?
So I finished in summer of 2013 I had a really great time actually! [laughing] it was a
very mad month May of 2013 because I finished uni, the day I finished uni, I made
friends, I got friends who do the beer festival in Cambridge and I went there at
lunchtime about 12 and they went ‘oh you’ve just finished uni haven’t you’ and I went
yeah so they went oh well you know how we close at lunch, you stay here and you
can continue drinking between lunch and the afternoon sessions and stuff, sounds a
great idea, the weather’s beautiful I still I stayed there from 12 til about 11 in the
evening! It was, yeah, I’d just slogged out the dissertation and all the final exams so
just let my hair down! That’s what I immediately did but I also, in the light of that
conversation, this is going to sound a bit weird, I also got selected to start training
21

with the GB Goal ball squad and I went on the training camp in Germany in late May
2013 and I saw the German National team and played against the German Youth
team and German Women’s team. Previously I had only played three goal ball
tournements that were novice level so at beginner level so I was just talent spotted
and drafted up to this insane level of goalball that I had never seen before it was
incredible. But er what else, I also went to a few concerts and gigs and things but
em, I guess in terms of professional stuff the first thing I did was I met up with a
Action for the Blind transitions officer, later on in 2013, and he sort of helped me with
CVs, legal positions, this sort of thing and also managed to arrange for me to have
an internship employed by Action for the Blind but based at Camsight working as a
fundraising working with IT this sort of thing, using the skills I’d learnt with my visual
impairment at university, trying, I guess to help other people and continue doing the
fundraising that I’d guess I’d done quite a lot over the years I was visually impaired.
What do you do now, what keeps you busy and stuff?
So that internship I got at Camsight employed by Action. That ran initially from
December 2013 to April 2014 and in April 2014 Camsight offered me a 6 month
contract working 4 days a week rather than the 2 that was the case with the
internship and this was absolutely fantastic and then round about September 2014 I
was looking at my options as the contract was coming down, I was looking at all
these jobs working with young visually impaired people because I realised I liked
working with young people and maybe with my experiences, I don’t know, I don’t
know if it sounds a bit arrogant but I was hoping I had something to offer so I was
like maybe I could work, there was a few places coming up in Newcastle,
Manchester, Leeds I was looking at all these places and then Camsight were like
well we would like to offer you a full-time position 4 days a week not on a 6 month
22

basis but permanent so I was like excellent! Yeah! I’ll go for that and that’s what I do
now. My official job title is ... it sounds a bit poncey, a bit glamorous, it’s called
Fundraising Ambassador! [laughing] it embarrasses me a little bit but it does what it
says, I fundraise, do some talks and basically just sort of talk about I guess my
involvement with Camsight so that involves em the beginning bits of me losing my
sight and all this sort of thing being out clubbing, cinema going, house partying 18/19
something year old, my sight going, continuing to be that person, doing University
and all the sport I do and all this sort of stuff and yeah being a Camsight client, being
a Camsight employee, seeing it from both sides and I’ll do talks for Camsight and
they revolve around fundraising and working with Camsight Youth Groups they do.
Also I play a lot of sport well mainly goal ball so I play a lot of one sport! I do a bit of
cycling and I did do a bit of tennis before I started working at Camsight and.... but
yeah no goal ball is my main hobby.
Cool tell me about goal ball because I don’t think I’ve heard of it actually.
It’s absolutely fantastic, as you are aware, I love it. It’s something I got into in
January 2012 when I knew nothing about it I was oh I’ll give some of this blind stuff a
go why not, and er yeah so it’s an indoor sport played in a court 18 metres long by 9
metres wide, so volley ball sized court, you have a court that stretches the full width
of the court at either end of the court. And you have two teams of 3, all wear shades
on so you have no sight at all, playing with 1.2 kilo balls with bells in, you throw them
as fast as you can along the floor to try and score in the oppositions goal and what
you do when you defend is you sort of slide yourself along the floor on your side with
your arms stretched up above your head, your legs stretched as far as they will go to
try and block it so it requires quite a lot of communication work of the team, a lot of
orientation work to know exactly where you are on the court, you have tape and
23

string on the floor to help you and the goal frame is a good reference point, but you
need to be able to have almost mental map of the court in your head so you can
work together in the best way you can as a team to be able to defend and attack and
almost in a really synchronised way.. and there’s a lot of deception that goes on so
you can have the ball really loud down one end and to try and fool the opposition you
can creep across the other side of the court with the ball being really quiet and throw
the ball down the other side sort of thing there’s a lot of tactics in the sport that make
it really fun but I guess initially the thing that grabbed me was just the social side of
it, I was one of the founding members of the Cambridge team and just going and
playing a sport and then chatting to other visually impaired people like-minded
people I guess who go, who maybe not even like-minded people, people who share
maybe similar things to you. I found that really helpful just, I found out so much
through just speaking to other visually impaired people, so many opportunities have
come up for me it’s been a real help actually em, and that’s what goal ball is really
good for for me initially em... yeah.... and from there the Cambridge Club was just
growing and growing and I’ve made so many friends we now have a Youth team,
Novice team, Intermediate team, Elite team, in the last Elite tournament we finished
second in the whole tournament, that’s a national team of all the best teams in the
country. In the Cambridge team we’ve got GB athletes who’ve played in European
championships who, one guy he won gold in the European championships in
January 2015 and he only started playing the sport in April 2013, it.. the group of
people who I’ve met and made friends with at the Cambridge team are some of my
closest and best friends, they are absolutely amazing people but it’s just, they really
are and I think that’s what’s so great about it, more than just the competitiveness of a
really serious sport and all this sort of thing, it’s that’s the side of it I don’t really like

24

so much cause I usually just end up playing badly! If I get too serious and all this sort
of thing, so playing with a nice chilled team who have just the right mentality really
helps.
And you are obviously very good at it as well...
Yes that surprised me as well, that was difficult to deal with I thought oh I’m good at
something, what’s this! And er... yeah no I’m not too bad. I trained with GB squad for
about 9 months I think, if anyone in goalball UK heard me say that they would say
that’s not the right term it’s GB Development Squad you are a part of but I was
training with this squad who had gone to the Paralympics in London 2012, that’s the
GB squad, I trained with them for 9 months, I am, I think I’m pretty realistic on how I
went, I wasn’t that good, I wasn’t one of the best, I had a lot of promise which is why
they dragged me straight up from novice to that level, they could tell that maybe, that
I had some promise but I don’t know maybe I don’t take it seriously enough to be an
athlete. It was difficult for me to come to terms with this cause I felt really proud and
really pleased to be playing at that level, I thought oh my god I never thought I could
it was absolutely incredible. So when I came round to the realisation that you know
what... it wasn’t that I came round I didn’t immediately come round to the realisation
that maybe it wasn’t for me I firstly came round to the realisation that maybe I am not
good enough and that was pretty horrible. I remember talking to the person who
works, I don’t know what her position is, development officer or, she does all the
background stuff, all the admin things and I had a really long chat with her and I think
I came to the conclusion was that I wasn’t good enough, I mean there was lots of
stuff that got in my way logistically like living in a very rural location that meant that to
get to my local squash courts to do shooting practice would take me an hour and
half, two hour round trip em... that’s when the buses run... it was really difficult to put
25

in the necessary amount of training you know, I am lucky my Dad was into his
weights, and I quite enjoyed keeping myself fit using the weights cause when my
sight went it was an easy way to do it, just staying at home doing static movements
with weights and all this sort of stuff. So doing exercise wasn’t a problem it’s just
doing the goalball actual specific practice was because you needed to go to an
actual place to do that so there were a few things that got in the way which were out
of my control. But I just don’t think I was good enough if I’m being honest, but now I
just play at a league level and er really enjoy it, I’ve got a good team in the
Cambridge bunch people who I get on with and yeah we go up to Birmingham four or
five times a year and er to play goal ball it’s good fun just to throw some balls at each
other and dive in the way of these 1.2 medicine balls!
It could really be quite painful if you get hit by them I’d have thought?
[laughing] Yeah you wear a lot of padding so you’ve got elbow pads, knee pads,
shin pads, hip pads, a box, and obviously the shades as well, thats about all the
padding you use, I try and do sit ups and things, since I’ve moved house I don’t
really, don’t really do as much exercise, not because I don’t want to just because I
haven’t got the equipment yet so I am hoping I still have got... my sit ups are doing
their job and keeping my stomach hard cause if you’ve got a harder stomach that’s a
bit of extra padding as well! But em you do wear a lot of padding and I remember the
first time I made that jump from novice from that training camp in Germany with the
GB squad, em I sort of went out and went out to play against the German youth team
so I was like these guys are going to be pretty good, I think a few of them went to a
blind school in Germany and obviously they are going to be future paralympians so
give them some respect its going to be tough, and I went out... you sort of play in a
triangle in a free position, I went into the centre because that’s what I enjoy playing
26

the most, and er it means you defend a lot of the ball and you sort of throw yourself
round the court a lot and er... this ball came thundering down so I thought excellent
I’ve got this tracked it really well threw myself in the way of it, didn’t quite get my top
arm in front of my face quickly enough so it whacked me in the face, I was a bit
dazed but didn’t want to let them onto it, I sort of got up, passed it to one of my team
mates they shot the ball and I was pouring with blood out of my nose, I only realised
it, I was dabbing my mouth and I kept playing and didn’t let them know what was
happening and then one of my team mates gave away a penalty and what happens
in that case is em me and the other guy on the court we go off and he’s got to defend
the whole goal himself. I went to run back on the court er... I think he missed the
penalty or something.. but just before I was about to run back on the court my coach
grabbed me and said ‘what are you doing? You cant go back on the court you’re
pouring with blood!’ But I seem to have a bit of a crazy mentality to be able to play
this sport.. have slight masochistic tendency or something!
Where do you play that?
Er we play at Netherhall so we train at Netherhall every other Sunday.
Where is that?
It’s on Queen Edith’s Way in Cambridge just in Cherry Hinton,
Oh I know yes.
Yeah yeah it’s like a sixth form I guess on the edge of the city near the Robin Hood
pub just there and er we go there every other Sunday we all get on we all have a
good time, and yes it works out quite well. The tournaments can be all over the
country, the most elite ones are in Birmingham but the novice region is split into
27

south and north, so the novice tournaments last year were in Birmingham, Reading,
Lutterworth for some reason and em where else? Gillingham that’s it and the
intermediate tournaments were in Nottingham, Winchester and somewhere near Mill
Hill in London. And yes so the intermediate regions is like a south, east and east
midlands region, it’s really just Nottingham, Cambridge and Winchester because
they are the biggest clubs in the country, well some of the biggest clubs in the
country I think it’s fair to say certainly Nottingham and Winchester they can field two
intermediate teams so er... you can end up getting a pretty decent tournament just
with the three of us really. But yeah no it’s a really growing sport across the country
and there’s a really nice community, really welcoming and when you are in the
community it’s really easy to keep in touch on say Facebook and Twitter and things
like that so it’s got that real closeness as well as sort of its got a good mixture of
being close but open.
Right em... cool have you got any tournaments coming up?
Emm yeah we do we’ve got a novice one coming up in Birmingham on Saturday 19 th
September. I think the first intermediate one is on 15th October and the first elite is in
November and that will be in Birmingham. I am hoping to get a tournament in
Cambridge. We had a tournament in Cambridge a few years ago and I would like to
get another one in Cambridge, cause, just cause my Club is probably in the top three
or four in terms of well established clubs in the country so it would be nice to maybe
get a tournament in Cambridge.
Yeah that would be wicked I’d love to see it actually.

28

Yeah yeah I think, I remember from the last tournament we had in Cambridge we
managed to get the mayor down to the tournament and he was there and we had a
team photo with the mayor afterwards! That was good fun!
Brilliant!
yeah yeah. But yeah no it’s a good sport absolutely cracking.
Class. How do you, I kind of have to think how to put this, how do you think the
attitudes of people in general, how did you notice them change when you became
visually impaired?
That’s a good question, can I just put the light on?
Oh yes....
I can sit here and it can go pitch black and I wouldn’t really mind! It’s a good question
do you want to say it again or do you want to.... or do in the editing?
Yeah that’ll be fine, I’ll just leave it going...
Em I think initially I didn’t, well I didn’t, attitudes of other people, they I guess I didn’t
really think about it too much. I realised well initially my family, I realised as I
mentioned previously they were really sort of cut up about it all they were really
upset and angry and guilty and all these quite negative emotions and what I really
began to realise maybe within the first year, of being visually impaired, is that a lot of
people see things you do on a day to day basis as inspirational. And I think at first
this may have seemed maybe a bit of fun to me, like oh wow this is kind of cool I
don’t have to do much and people think I’m great! But after about 6 years of doing
something rather bog standard like I don’t know, writing an email or making a

29

sandwich and things like this, it does become a bit like, well come on it’s not
inspirational I’m just doing what you do, I am just doing things you do on a day to day
basis, I guess in a way I can see what they mean because being fully sighted for the
majority of my life I can see that I didn’t know anything about how visually impaired
people do stuff but I think what they mean is oh, I didn’t know visually impaired
people could do that but I think em, it’s just what, how it comes across. But I think
that that attitude in itself is maybe not something that could be changed I think
because I don’t know, if the, if society knew that visually impaired people could do
these things it would make a big difference and yeah, I certainly think there is
something in that because if people knew that day to day activities are something
that visually impaired people can do without thinking then great... like getting a train,
like getting the tube or something, if people knew there was assistance there to help
people do this it would be great. Or erm I don’t know, simply going up and down
stairs, its not that hard if the stairs are regular even if you’ve got no sight at all just
follow the banister round, up you go, there is such a... even with professional
organisations there is such a song and dance done about how to deal with a visually
impaired person going up and down stairs it’s ridiculous, it’s just you have to go on
this side of them, they have to be holding you in this way, you have to be telling them
exactly where the banister is, you don’t need to do all that! It does seem to be a bit of
overkill sometimes I think, em, so yeah I think my sort of perceptions of society have
changed over time, my perceptions of how society perceive I guess, visually
impaired people has changed over time... since I have been visually impaired,
certainly initially it was ‘gah this is pretty neat’! I’m an inspiration! And I think I have
maybe milked that to an extent over the years, not maybe, at first maybe not
intentionally but the first quiz I did I, when I was writing a letter to companies I put oh

30

just saying it in a matter of fact way just saying ‘my sight went a year ago, while I
was doing my A level exams, went to Camsight, they taught me to touch type screen
reading software, learnt the tandem to keep my cycling alive, em I would like to do a
quiz for them anything you can donate would be greatly appreciated’ and send that
off and the responses I got were incredible, I was like wow this is amazing! But I
think I soon began to realise that if you put that story in, people think, oh my god how
the hell does he live his life it must be awful! Thank God for this charity, it sounds,
what a fantastic charity and this sort of thing. And I think you seem to find this in a lot
of fundraising to be able to fundraise well you have, it seems as though I don’t know
if you have to but it seems as though the culture to be able to fundraise well you
need to be able to portray either a sob story or make people out to be, maybe make
out that people can’t really cope on a day to day basis. Or can’t cope that easily on a
day to day basis, and I guess on the other hand what charities should be doing is
portraying to the society that they are confident, independent, that they can do this,
they can do that, they are not an inspiration for doing these things, but then if you do
that, where’s the funding going to come from to support these charities. That’s I
guess quite a complex er... complex attitude but what I guess what people also need
to realise is yeah visually impaired people can do this, can do that it’s not
inspirational, it’s just normal, but at the same time like I was describing at my time at
University, I was able to do the course at the same level as everyone else and get an
honours degree, I had the same opportunities as everyone else, this that and the
other, but it was still a real slog, it was a real slog because of my visual impairment, I
had to put a lot of organisation in it and lot of preparation and I think maybe I could
have been helped a little bit more with the publishers getting the stuff in an
accessible format, this that and the other, but I still have to put in a lot more

31

organisation like formatting my folders and files, beforehand I could maybe have
scattered things everywhere and just thumbed through papers, looked at different
things, and it was like oh yeah. There are always a few innate things you are always
going to have to do, always going to have to be more organised if you are visually
impaired person because I guess that’s the nature of it, the nature of it is you can’t
see something at a glance. That’s just the nature of it em, and I’m trying to
remember where I’m going with this one, and I.... I hope I am not waffling but yes so
what I am trying to get to is there’s a fine balance between saying that we are all
perfectly capable, it’s normal for us to do these day to day tasks you think are
inspirational and saying ‘oh poor me I lost my sight at the age of 19, it was horrible, I
had to do touch typing, screen reading, they managed to get a tandem bike for me,
without this I wouldn’t have any hobbies’, it’s a fine line between that extreme and we
are all very capable but it’s something I think that needs to be thought about really
carefully and get the right portrayal put across in society.
It’s quite a big leap I think from being somebody without a disability, to being
somebody with a disability em, and I think certain people kind of like make that leap
as far as they want to or as much as they want to. But I still think it’s quite a big thing
to actually say to yourself, I have a disability, how did you find that?
Em yeah I think.... yeah I think I found it, trying to think of the best way to put this, I
think I found it a lot easier than I ever, not that I considered it beforehand but if I did
consider it beforehand I found it a lot easier than I expected I would. I think because
a lot of the things I was saying about earlier were I maybe had a slightly negative
outlook on life beforehand and then this happened and I don’t know I wasn’t
particularly looking forward to full-time employment, and all this sort of thing, em that
it probably happened at the right time in that sense, it certainly happened at the right
32

time, I had no bills to pay, no kids of my own, it happened at a really good time for
me to be able to adjust to it... if I knew I was going to lose a lot of my sight I would
have chosen that time! So yes in that sense I was very fortunate I had the time to be
able to deal with it and I think that was really important and the right time... I had the
time in the sense I had not much going on after my A levels but I also had time, it
happened at the right time in my life... so I think timing is really important for the way
I dealt with it... but... I guess I just, there was an instance once where I remember I
was getting out of the car and I swung the door open and it was almost into this mum
pushing this baby along in a pram, and I was like oh god I’m so sorry and this sort of
stuff and I mean she didn’t know I was visually impaired and I realised that the
practicalities are that you just need to use a cane so I was just like, yeah I need to
use a cane, I don’t really mind, its something that shows other people as much as it
helps myself, that I am visually impaired so I guess a lot of the practicalities I guess,
it’s difficult to say at the time yes I was very self conscious but also I guess maybe
quite of a realist, a bit sensible just realised I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do .... I’ve
got to have a cane haven’t I. I can’t beat around the bush this is what I’ve got to do
there’s no point feeling all self-conscious I would be a lot more self-conscious if I ran
over an old lady and broke her nose or something it would be terrible! So the
practicalities are I need to use a cane so yeah I just got round that quite quickly.
Yeah I think the more it’s gone the more it’s shaped who I am that’s for sure.. playing
a visually impaired sport is a pretty blind thing to do.. a lot of the friends I have are
also visually impaired, it’s not something I made necessarily consciously, it’s just
something that’s happened over time I guess, em, yeah, since I broke up with my
girlfriend who was with me when my sight’s gone, everyone else I’ve gone on a date
with or something, they have all been visually impaired! Yeah it’s, so er, I guess it’s

33

just something that I have just got used to. That’s probably the best way to describe.
Its difficult, I’m not sure I’ve really done your question much justice there but....
No I think that’s it to be honest with you I think it’s a difficult question. Erm how do
you think, how do you think society is set up for people with a visual impairment? We
have spoken quite a lot about this, but how accessible are things, how easy is it to
live your life with a visual impairment would you say? Or how difficult.
I think first of all it should be pointed out that a lot of it depends on the individual,
there are people in different stages of life who lose their sight, people born without
sight, they’re an individual regardless of their sight but even including their sight you
are an individual about how your sight affects your life how you’ve lost your sight, the
level of sight you have, the confidence you have at using your sight, all these sorts of
things so two people being visually impaired one person could be visually impaired
one person could be totally blind, the other person could have maybe enough sight
to read something like a menu or something, but still be visually impaired. And the
person who is totally blind could manage and cope a lot better than that person who
can read a menu. So I think it’s important to underline that but in a more general
sense I think, it’s a difficult question to answer really. I think in terms of I guess
practical things there’s a good degree of support out there. In a very general sense
that there is train assistance, I remember the first time I used the train to go
anywhere quite faraway it was the first time I had used the train to go quite faraway
by myself regardless of whether I was visually impaired. So I was a little bit nervous
about doing it, I had to go to Cambridge ,change in Ely and go up to Sheffield and
the assistance was fantastic it got me onto the train in Cambridge, changed in Ely
and when I got to Sheffield it wasn’t there. So I guess that’s a good example, there’s
a lot of support out there but it doesn’t always work. Another constraint to the support
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out there is the funding. So the funding is a huge thing, funding is being cut all the
time and it’s really obvious because services take a lot longer to come about,
services can’t be provided fully. I know someone who has recently lost a lot of their
sight, they could probably do with emotional support before they decide to overcome
things like being in denial and stuff before they get given their cane but the sensory
services don’t have the funding for that so they can’t do this, they can’t do this really
important emotional support to be able to help someone come round to the idea that
a cane would be really helpful, not only for you but for everybody, it will help you do
quite a lot and there’s no funding to help giving the opportunity to do this. Yeah even
with the specialist visually impaired schools across the country, this doesn’t
necessarily affect me but it’s another good example, they are having to diversify to
people with multiple disabilities whereas I think it is better beneficial for some,
working with visually impaired kids I realise it is beneficial for some kids with a visual
impairment to go to a specialist school for people with visual impairment because
that way they will feel like they are not alone and this that and the other and that it’ll
help them in so many more ways than going to a mainstream school, it’s not for
everybody but it is something I feel is important for some people by mixing that up
with people with multiple disabilities em..... I feel it dilutes that speciality a little but
em. There are many other examples of where [....] things like public transport, that’s
a fantastic example. I was a key campaigner in a number of cuts to public transport
in my local area when I lived in Duxford, em the bus that was taking me to and from
Cambridge was simply cut one day and I couldn’t get out of the camp! The old RAF
camp I had a motorway there I had to cross the motorway, my argument was well I
have to throw myself in front of the road or you have to provide me with public
transport cause I can’t get to a shop, I can’t get to a doctors surger,y I can’t get to

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even the fun things I want to do, I can’t get to my friends, I can’t get to the cinema, I
can’t get to a pub, I can’t do any of this stuff, give me a bus! Give all these people
who need a bus not just me, that’s the point I was making so I think public transport
is a huge thing that definitely needs to be readdressed. The balance between private
and public in this country is horrendously out of order and I think whatever pol.....
politics aside there doesn’t need to be any colours or banners or lefts or rights or
anything like this, it just seems to make coherent sense that what the public owns
the public benefit from so the public make money on the services that they run so
why give the private company all the routes that make money then public money is
left linked together for a few dispirit villages that have been drawn through a line with
by the efficiently run service that’s exactly what we had to do there was a line that
went from Cambridge through to Saffron Walden separating Duxford village and
Sawston and all these really profitable villages and then scattered either side of that
line there was a few disparate villages that had to be linked together with a pittance.
But of course there’s going to be a useless service that no-one is going to want to
use and of course it will be a good example of why public money is being used
inefficiently because as it is don’t use it inefficiently! And yeah I think that’s a big
problem in a number of different areas that really holds not only disabled people but
a lot of people back but yeah I think it really affects disabled people because they
rely on public services quite a lot more than most I think and if they are being cut like
that then it’s not going to help us. I mean as I spoke about at great length I think the
thing is society has come forward a lot, I can’t really speak for that too much as I’ve
only been disabled for the past 6 years but er as I said before the only thing with
society is I think, I think it’s treating you as a person not a blind person. I was
speaking to a friend last night actually and he said that he was in a club and these

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people were talking to his friend rather than him but about him and then they would
go up to him and ‘oh so what’s it like being blind, what do you do’ they clearly weren’t
listening they were just drunk idiots and things like that, we had it on the train back
from Cambridge after my most recent quiz, I was with my girlfriend and the same
friend I was just talking about just then, they both have less sight than I do and they
were these drunk people on the train and they thought it was, they thought that they
were, thought they could crack jokes about... they were talking to me but about the
whole group going ‘are these your friends then?’ and all this sort of stuff and I think
obviously they were drunk and they probably wouldn’t be like that if they were sober
but that’s no excuse. But I think even to an extent if people are sober they will still
make those calls where they speak to the most sighted person or the least blind
person as it were and things like that and that can still happen I think. But I don’t
want to detract from the fact that society has come forward a hell of a lot. There’s
also a lot of improvement that’s been made. I think the sport and the Paralympics
was a good example of that, the improvement in attitudes that came about at the end
of that that these people are not only... these people are not just disabled athletes
they are athletes. That was the sort of a good way to maybe sum up the zeitgeist
that came from the Paralympics and I think that was a fantastic attitude that ran from
that into mainstream society, not just the Paralympics and the sporting world and I
think it really ran through it and I think it was great, it was a great side effect that
came from that. But as I say there is still room for improvement, there always is.
What do you think the future holds for you?
What me personally?
Yeah just generally..

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Good question I try not to think about it too much cause I find it I plan it could lead to
disappointment.
I know that yeah!
Em just cheesy corniness but being happy I guess, despite what it seems at the
moment I kind of don’t want to be by myself em really I am quite sociable.... Maybe I
don’t know she won’t probably ever go to the British Library to hear this but maybe if
my girl would like to come down from Wales and live here or maybe I will go and live
up there that would be quite nice. Hopefully things will continue to go well. But yeah
as I say I don’t like to set things in stone really just take each step at a time, I think
that’s part of the reason why I dealt with my visual impairment so well really, just take
each step at a time don’t plan too much, don’t necessarily be spontaneous, just try
and make the right call at the right time and enjoy it as you go along.
Yeah
Yeah I don’t want to sound too much like Bill Hicks it’s just the ride!
Brilliant! Class! Em cool is there anything you’d like to add that we haven’t talked
about or anything?
No no I don’t think so, em no. No I think we’ve covered it all I think.
Brilliant cool well thank you very much!

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