Charity gives support to ex-Royal Navy commander from Hayling

Iain Upton
Iain Upton
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A PARTIALLY-SIGHTED former Royal Navy commander and prize-winning public speaker says blindness should not stop a person starting a new career.

Commander Iain Upton, who set up his own public speaking business this year with the help of Blind Veterans UK, praised findings of a poll by the charity which show 81 per cent of the UK would not let blindness get in the way of a job.

The 51-year-old, from Hayling Island, spent more than 30 years in the Royal Navy before being diagnosed in 2011 with nasopharyngeal cancer, a rare form of the disease affecting the throat.

After treatment he was left with severe damage to his optic nerve, robbing him of his eyesight, as well as damage to the nerves in his mouth, leaving him with speech problems and difficulty swallowing.

Mr Upton said: ‘I absolutely loved my time in the navy and that was where I developed a love of public speaking. It was always my plan to set up my own business once I’d left service, but my diagnosis meant it had to go on hold.

‘As I recovered from my treatment I was in a very bad way. As well as having to learn to cope with my other disabilities, I felt like losing my sight had removed so much of my independence and it stopped me from doing many of the things I used to love – that was really hard. Blind Veterans UK has helped me so much, especially in encouraging me to overcome my fears.’

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