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 Photo of Mick with his wife at the abseil Our client and volunteer Mick has achieved a huge amount after losing his sight in the last few years. He’s learned how to navigate daily life and successfully taken on a lot of big new challenges. His aim in sharing his experiences is to inspire people with visual impairment, “to get out from the four walls.”

Mick’s story is an inspiration but he’s not telling it to be boastful. “If my story gets across to just one person and helps them to get out and not just be lonely at home then I will be really pleased,” he said.
A career in the steel industry ended when Mick suddenly lost vision in his right eye. His “can do” attitude led him into working in security at the Rotherham New York Stadium until eventually the sight went in his other eye. 

Mick could cope well before that happened, he was even able to drive. But he then faced many more difficulties. He made contact with Rotherham Sight & Sound (RSS) and that’s when things started to change.

“From that day on so many doors opened it was brilliant. People were there to help with things I didn’t know about, I was just coming up to brick walls. I can understand why people get depressed.”

He got help with the practicalities such as sorting out benefits and doing cane-training. A turning point was also joining our Look Ahead course. At first Mick thought that hearing about the problems other people were facing would not be for him but actually listening to the shared experiences and getting to know people was a big help.

Mick was really keen to learn cane training  because he wanted to get back to some sort of normal life. “I want just to carry on with life. I don’t want to think about losing my senses, I want to try to do things to the best of my ability.”

Long cane training gave him the confidence to get on a bus alone and make his way across Rotherham town centre to meet his teacher Tracy, one of our Community Advice Officers, at an event. She hailed him as her “star pupil”. Mick modestly thought he probably didn’t deserve such praise but it did give him a feeling of satisfaction that he had made the journey by himself.

That willingness to try something new has served Mick well and it’s still less than two years since his sight went. He’d enjoyed playing sport in the past so when any new activity was suggested at SRSB/RSS he would always say, “Put my name down for it.”

He’s joined the VI Walking Group, tried tenpin bowling, tennis, archery, and shooting. But his biggest success and the sport he really took to was baseball. Mick had only ever seen one baseball match in his life and that was on holiday in Canada.

It wasn’t easy learning to hit the ball which has a rattle inside to help with locating it, nor was being told to run when it felt as if he was just in a dark tunnel.

But he said his coaches were amazingly good. “I thought this is brilliant, I am just going to put my faith and trust in these guys. I went from taking baby steps to actually running on my toes and they called me the whippet, which amused me as I am 64 years old.”

The hard work paid off though with a call up for Mick to represent Great Britain in a VI baseball team trip to Italy. Unfortunately he had torn a calf muscle with just four weeks to get ready for it so he had to do a lot of extra sessions in the gym and swimming to get it better.

“It’s been the highlight of the many sports I have done. It was a great opportunity and if I wasn’t visually impaired I would not have done that, so good things can come out of it.”

Mick will be continuing with the baseball training and encouraging more people to form a team with the ultimate aim of competing on an international level and maybe even at the Paralympic Games.

“I have always been really competitive in everything I do. I set out for the goal of being the best at what I am doing. “

He’s so grateful for all the help he has had Mick has now become a telephone befriender for SRSB/RSS.

“There are people out there who are just stuck in their four walls. I can understand that they just don’t know how to contact people, they are just lonely. I want to give something back because a lot of people have helped me.”

Further reading: In 2022 RUFC shared a story about Mick on their website.

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