Blind Dave Heely - Sports Speaker
Blind Dave Heeley
“An ordinary bloke from a little village called West Bromwich.”Dave was born 24th November 1957, but any one asking him, on his next birthday he will be 39 and 144 months. He is married to wife Debbie whom he whisked off to Gretna Green (a romantic at heart). They have a hattrick of girls whom he is very proud of, also an important member of the family is guide dog Wicksie.
He was always known as a clumsy kid, never a day passed without cuts, bruises or a broken pair of glasses, until at around ten years of age all was revealed, he was diagnosed with an eye complaint called Retinitas Pigmentosa, just a slight problem, it meant he was going blind. When first diagnosed he was quite a celebrity at school, "Wow Dave's going blind", no one else was so it was a case of " I've got some thing you haven't got". He attended mainstream schools, Greets Green Junior and George Salter High School, his only claim to fame; he was the town champion at 1500 metres for five years.
The realisation of his eye complaint hit him with some force at the age of seventeen, his career in the army shattered and with all his friends taking driving tests made him realise the true implications of going blind, it was at this point he inwardly started feeling sorry for himself, "Why me", but in life there are two paths to took the positive route.Regardless of his sight problem, he's had a varied working career, mainly office bound, other than his short stint on a fork lift truck, he admits he wasn't always honest about his sight problem, he had his own company for around seven years, distributing suspended ceilings, partitions, dry lining and joinery, he loved the buying and selling but with bad luck, bad debt and bad eye sight, all good things come to an end. After spending three years at the Queen Alexandra College for the Blind where he achieved skills in Braille, computers, carpentry and wood turning, it's now easy for him to lose himself in his workshop where he loves to design and make all kinds of furniture. He now even has a weekly radio slot on Insight radio called DIY with Blind Dave and still no fingers missing!
Dave tried hard over the years to conceal his blindness but with his eyesight gradually declining the accidents kept increasing until he had to admit defeat and resort to using the white stick, which made him feel incapable, vulnerable and extremely frustrated. Suddenly overnight Dave's life was changed when he was introduced to Peter his first Guide Dog. No longer the hunched figure trawling the footpath, but full of confidence, standing and walking tall, feeling very proud, striding out with a sure footed four legged friend, mobility assured, as for independence, the perfect recipe for adventure, with a social life, second to none, his only regret is not having a Guide Dog sooner.For fun he's up for most challenges, he's had a go at most things, ski-ing, water ski-ing, horse riding, cliff jumping in Corfu, drove around Brands Hatch, rode motor bikes, drove a tank in the Highlands of Scotland, abseiled, was let loose in a speed boat, completed the Go Ape course in Grisedale forest, an Aerial assault course in the trees and he certainly enjoys his running. Competing in many half marathons, including the Great North and South runs along with the New York marathon and to date completing his 7th consecutive London marathon. Oh! And of course completing 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents the ultimate challenge! Not forgetting he is now also the first blind person in the world to achieve this.
In recognition of Dave's charity work over the years he was invited to Buckingham Palace for a Christmas reception with the Queen and also to a function at the House of Lords. Whatever's coming next?