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Blinded ex-officer on road to recovery

Six years after becoming blind following a vicious attack in a Woolworths store, Bournemouth ex-naval officer Chris Ford can once again shoot a gun and sail a boat.

Chris was shopping with his family for a lightbulb when he crossed the path of an armed robber rushing into the store.

Upon seeing Chris, the thief hit him over the head with a metal bar.

After waking up in hospital, Chris was told that he could no longer see.

Having lost his job building yachts, he found himself without  a way to support his family.

“It was devastating, coming home and realising you couldn’t pay any bills,” he recalls.

“Bailiffs came knocking on the door, attempting to change the locks and kick me out.”

After a year without leaving the house, Chris turned to the Dorset Blind Association (DBA), a local sight loss charity that caters for the needs of the blind and partially sighted in the county.

They took him through how to claim benefits and gave him the confidence to not only rebuild his own life, but become a charity ambassador encouraging others living with visual impairment.

Six years on from the attack, Chris found himself back at a Royal Navy rifle rang and on a disability course which enabled him to shoot again.

“The experience took me all the way back to the buzz I got when I first joined the services,” he recalls.

“It was like switching the light back on for me.”

Chris was given the chance to sail again on the BBC One programme, Saints and Scroungers, with the help from local charities, Poole Sailability and the DBA.

Poole Sailability was formed in 2009 and is operated entirely by volunteers.

Their main message is that “disability is not a barrier to experiencing the joy of sailing”.