An introduction to John Dickinson-Lilley

Really Useful Stuff are proud to be a ‘really useful’ sponsor to John. Here is some insight from John on how he got into Skiing.

IMG_1126I’m delighted to be able to tell you a bit about my journey through sightless, into skiing and on to the world of international adaptive ski racing. My journey has only been possible through a number of vital supporters, Kay, Tim and the Really Useful Stuff team foremost amongst them – thanks guys!

So a bit about me! My name is John Dickinson-Lilley, I’m 34 and registered blind and have a terrific sidekick called Jimmy – my guidedog. You can normally find us knocking about Westminster in my day job as a public affairs professional, in a gym working out, in a snow dome training or on a mountain racing!

I started losing my sight in teens as a result of a degenerative condition which caused me to lose all of my peripheral vision and has left me with less than 8 degrees of sight in the centre of my eyes. I’ve also got a visual acuity of 2/60 which basically means what someone else can see in detail at a distance of 60 metres I can see in under 2 metres. So, I can’t see far and I can’t see much!

So how did I get into skiing? Well, I started skiing in 2009 when a group of friends invited me on a skiing holiday to Zermatt in Switzerland (still my favourite resort!) and convinced me to try out skiing; which I thought was a pretty crazy thing to do at the time! Whilst in Zermatt I met an amazing ski instructor called Ben who is specially qualified as an adaptive instructor enabling him to teach disabled people to ski. Ben got me on first pair of skis and had me upright and skiing within 2 days – he taught me the fundamentals of skiing; balance, control, body position and like any ski racer I’m always working on the fundamentals striving to improve my performance.

Zermatt was followed by a number of other skiing holidays with friends, more time with adaptive instructors and getting the all-important ‘time on snow’ and consolidating on all the other things I learned before. I was away in Alpe D’Huez in France when I saw the french adaptive ski team in training, I particularly noticed the visually impaired (VI) skiers who were flying down the piste with their guides; It was an amazing sight with the VI and their Guide skiing in synchronicity. I came away from that holiday inspired to ski more and inspired to try and race.

The Really Useful Stuff team would like to thank John for writing this guest blog for us and wish him the best of luck with his future efforts. John will be keeping us all up-to-date on his experiences and competition results. Good luck John!

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