BORN: Winchester, raised on a council estate in (yes, they do have them). I think quite a lot of people know now that I’ve been blind from birth; rather less may know I also have a blind elder brother. We were something of a feature in our area, particularly because we were blessed by not having over-protective parents. We rather stunned the neighbours by doing all the things the other kids did; riding bikes, roller-skating, and getting into fights. Because we were blind, though, we spent a lot of our childhoods away at boarding-schools, one of them in particular quite Dickensian. They were environments in which you either sank or swam; I was lucky enough to be able to swim.
FAMILY: I'm married to Jo, and we have four children, one of whom, Fiona, we fostered when she was ten. I now have three grand-children ranging from 13 to 4 years old and am quite enjoying second hand parenthood.
CV: Started to read law at university, but didn't enjoy it. Then spent a year in York, encouraging disaffected youth to get involved in community work, such as decorating the houses of old people who would rather have been left alone. Read sociology and economics, and went straight into radio, by doorstepping my local radio station in Southampton. Two years later I submitted a couple of ideas for "In Touch", the Radio 4 programme for blind people, and within six months was presenting it. Have divided my time since between network and local radio, for whom I still have a great loyalty; and still occasionally work. Being the BBC’s Disability Affairs Specialist ahs also meant I get to visit some interesting place – Athens, Sydney and Beijing among them.
BEST MOMENT IN CAREER: Presenting a live programme from the streets of Cardiff on the morning that my beloved Southampton football club were appearing in the 2003 cup final! If you had told me when I was a child that one day I would combine my two loves of Southampton and radio in one hit I would have thought I’d died and gone to heaven! It fully lived up to my expectations. The other was winning the Sony speech broadcaster award in 2001, another dream come true.
WORST MOMENT IN CAREER: Six months into my career, aged 22 I had suggested a programme to Solent called "In time, Gentlemen, please", which sought the best pub choir in the south. I found myself, completely inexperienced, facing a roomful of Southampton dockers, armed only with a microphone, and discovering we'd come on a night when they were due to play an important darts final. The last thing they wanted to do was sing, and especially for a callow youth who'd clearly never done a day of hard physical graft in his life. I had to be rescued by a formidable woman called Gladys, who was something of an opera buff, and she did want to sing!
PET HATES: Brussels sprouts, scented gardens for the blind and pretentious language.
PET LOVES: Cricket, my six-year-old granddaughter Hannah, and, ever since I read ‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’ as a child, mongooses (yes, that is the correct plural)! I've always wanted to own one, and this dream almost came true when my wife and I went on a silver wedding holiday to southern Africa, and a family of them were living in a culvert next to our chalet on a Botswana game reserve.
MY WEEKEND: We often have two of the grandchildren to stay for part of the weekend which means impromptu games of football (I make them play in the dark), reading stories and visits to the park. An ideal weekend would also include a visit to St Mary’s to watch Southampton win 5-0, which sadly doesn’t happen often!