Partially sighted grandfather of 73 Patrick O’Neill looks to help others with visual impairment.

Patrick

After a lot of years spent at home I finally decided to do something about it.

Partially sighted grandfather 73 years old Patrick O’Neill is a regular visitor to the Focus Birmingham centre as he looks to help others with visual impairment.

“I gradually started to lose my sight in 1974, but really didn’t realise what was happening at the time. I had four young children, so obviously it was a difficult time and I tried to carry on as normal. I was then diagnosed with a very rare eye condition called Eales Disease.”

Eventually losing the majority of his sight in both eyes and spending many years at home, Patrick decided he had to do something about it.

“I enrolled at the Queen Alexandra College in Harborne, Birmingham and learnt Braille, typing and telephony and eventually started working for the Allied Irish Bank as a blind telephonist. I finished there 28 years later as a business development manager.”

After many operations, Patrick has no sight in his right eye but has regained tunnel vision in his left eye.

“I still have no sight in my right eye but I now have tunnel vision in my left eye, so I can see people and get around as long as I am able to familiarise myself with places.”

As Patrick wanted to give something back, he became a valuable volunteer at Focus Birmingham over ten years ago. He works on the telephone helpline, giving advice and support to those living with sight loss and helps out by translating written documents into Braille.

Patrick, who has eight grandchildren as well as his four children, was joined in the Great Birmingham Run by his sighted guide Beverley Hart plus a group of Focus Birmingham runners including Chief Executive Tom Harrison and Focus community worker Councillor Zafar Iqbal MBE.

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