A dad who became a golfing star after waking up blind needs your help to compete at the world championships.
Billy McAlistair, who lives in Bedford, lost his sight three years ago took up the sport in an attempt to keep active.
And Billy, 44, is now ranked number one blind golfer in the UK, and 12th in the world and has qualified to compete in the World Blind Championships in Australia.
But in order to take part, the father of two who was forced to give up his job in finance after losing his vision, needs to find around £3,000 so that he and his professional coach Sam Smith can get there.
He said: “I really need to get some sponsorship, I qualified last time but couldn’t compete because it was in Canada, I’m out of work because of my condition.
“I have beaten the Italian guy who is currently world champion before, but not at a tournament of this level. It would be great to go this time because the World Championships are only every two years and the older you get the less chance you have.”
Since waking up completely blind, Billy has worked hard to rehabilitate himself and adjust to his new life. But it is golf, using a special technique fine tuned by his trainer Sam, which he claims has kept him from becoming frustrated with his situation.
He said: “The doctor told me that I would be totally blind one day and I had been losing my eyesight since 2003, but then I just went to bed and woke up and it had happened.
“I sat on the sofa from 8am and I couldn’t move until my wife got home from work. For a year and a half after that I was in rehab to try and get back to normal life. I thought, I’m going to have to do something, and I went on the internet to see what blind sports there were. The first year I played I lost every tournament, but then we moved to Bedford and I started being coached by Sam Smith at Bedford Golf Club and I really started to improve.”
Billy, who had a heart attack soon after going blind as a result of the shock, said: “I bottle everything up, but when it happened I worried about what I was going to put my family through. As an individual I could cope fine, but it was such a big family change. I didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. I wanted my kids to know that I was still their silly old dad.”
“Finding a job has been almost impossible, so financially it has been a big frustration too. I’ve tried to work with things I don’t really need eyes for, but there’s road blocks wherever you go. It’s only through the help of others that I’ve been able to play my golf because I can’t afford it really.”
If you would like to donate to Billy’s Australia fund contact Sam Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also email Sam to find out about a special fundraising golf day for Billy, which is taking place on March 8 at Bedford Golf Club, in Great Denham.