23.04.12 -Partially sighted builder becomes top ‘body-builder’
Stephen Edwards, 37, a builder from Pontypridd has overcome the career-ending loss of his eyesight, to become one of the top fitness instructors at Crown Fitness Centre in Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd.
To thank RNIB Cymru, the charity which helped him to gain new employment, Crown Fitness has adopted the sight loss organisation as their official charity for 2012.
In May, Stephen and his colleagues are undertaking the 17-mile long Big Black Mountains Challenge Hike - organised by the Longtown Mountain Rescue Team - to raise funds for the charity’s work.
Stephen started losing his sight from the age of 11 but suffered a blow to the head in a building site accident in 2004 which significantly progressed his loss of vision. By the age of 30 he was registered blind.
Unable to work in construction again, In 2010 Stephen decided to re-train for a new profession and enrolled in a fitness industry training course at The Royal National College for the Blind inHereford.
Of his new career Stephen said: "l absolutely love it, I have always liked to keep fit and always kept on the move and active in my work, in fact this is the first job I have had that is primarily indoors.
Now I get a real kick out of helping people to achieve their fitness goals and working and experiencing their progress with them. I want to give something back to RNIB Cymru, to help others like me, hence the sponsored walk. I hope to raise a lot of money for them.”
Paul Conway, owner of Crown Fitness said: “Stephen came to us on a work placement initially in May 2011 and we were so impressed with his dedication and skill levels that we were delighted to offer him a permanent job in September, and now he is a highly valued member of our gym team.
His sight loss is no barrier to his work, in fact a lot of members he is personal trainer to are unaware that he is registered blind. We want to thank RNIB Cymru for helping us to discover Stephen and raising funds for their work in helping others to find work is the least we can do.”
Sarah Rochira, Director of RNIB Cymru said: “Stephen is a true role model an inspiration for people who have sight loss. He has shown that with the support and training people can achieve their career aspirations. We thank Stephen and Crown Fitness for their fundraising efforts and wish them every success in the future.”
Photos: Pictured outside the Crown Fitness centre Stephen Edwards (centre) with owner Paul Conway and client Chris Fearne from Beddau.