Dave was born 24th November 1957. He is married to wife Debbie whom he whisked off to Gretna Green (a romantic at heart). They have a hat trick of girls whom he is very proud of; also an important member of the family is his guide dog Seamus.
He was always known as a clumsy kid, never a day passed without cuts, bruises or a broken pair of glasses, until at around ten years of age all was revealed, he was diagnosed with an eye complaint called Retinitas Pigmentosa, just a slight problem, it meant he was going blind. When first diagnosed he was quite a celebrity at school, “Wow Dave’s going blind”, no one else was so it was a case of “I’ve got something you haven’t got”. He attended mainstream schools, Greets Green Junior and George Salter High School, his only claim to fame; he was the town champion at 1500 metres for five years.
The realisation of his eye complaint hit him with some force at the age of seventeen, his career in the army shattered and with all his friends taking driving tests made him realise the true implications of going blind, it was at this point he inwardly started feeling sorry for himself, “Why me”, but in life there are two paths to tread, negative or positive and as he will tell you he took the positive route.
Regardless of his sight problem, he’s had a varied working career, mainly office bound, other than his short stint on a fork lift truck, he admits he wasn’t always honest about his sight problem, he had his own company for around seven years, distributing suspended ceilings, partitions, dry lining and joinery, he loved the buying and selling but with bad luck, bad debt and bad eye sight, all good things come to an end. After spending three years at the Queen Alexandra College for the Blind where he achieved skills in Braille, computers, carpentry and wood turning, it’s now easy for him to lose himself in his workshop where he loves to design and make all kinds of furniture. He now even has a weekly radio slot on Insight radio called DIY with Blind Dave and still no fingers missing!
Dave tried hard over the years to conceal his blindness but with his eyesight gradually declining the accidents kept increasing until he had to admit defeat and resort to using the white stick, which made him feel incapable, vulnerable and extremely frustrated. Suddenly overnight Dave’s life was changed when he was introduced to Peter his first Guide Dog. No longer the hunched figure trawling the footpath, but full of confidence, standing and walking tall, feeling very proud, striding out with a sure footed four legged friend, mobility assured, as for independence, the perfect recipe for adventure, with a social life, second to none, his only regret is not having a Guide Dog sooner.
For fun he’s up for most challenges, he’s had a go at most things, ski-ing, water ski-ing, horse riding, cliff jumping in Corfu, drove around Brands Hatch, rode motor bikes, drove a tank in the Highlands of Scotland, abseiled, was let loose in a speed boat, completed the Go Ape course in Grisedale forest, an Aerial assault course in the trees and he certainly enjoys his running. Competing in many half marathons, including the Great North and South runs along with the New York marathon and to date completing his 7th consecutive London marathon. Oh! And of course completing 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents the ultimate challenge! Not forgetting he is now also the first blind person in the world to achieve this.
After completing the epic challenge, which took him on a running journey around the world, as stated previously, running 7 marathons, in 7 days, over 7 continents, which began on 7th April 2008 in the Falkland Islands (Antarctica), Rio, Brazil, (South America), Los Angeles, (North America), Sydney, (Australasia), Dubai, (Asia), Tunisia, (Africa), with the challenge ending in the Flora London marathon, (Europe), on 13th April 2008.
The challenge launched Dave into a new career as a “Motivational Speaker” with a diverse audience i.e. After Dinner, Corporate, Colleges, Schools, Special needs etc.
A fitting end to 2008 was Blind Dave and his running guide being acknowledged at the BBC Midlands Sports Awards as the winners of the “Outstanding sporting achievement of 2008".
2009 sees Dave becoming the Physical Activities Champion for Sandwell Council and an Ambassador for the Birmingham Half Marathon. He was also acknowledged with an award by the High Sheriff of the West Midlands. Since the challenge he has been involved with many charities, including running the first Birmingham half marathon for the Kidney Kids appeal with “Team Blind Dave” and the last Flora London Marathon with a personal best time of 3 hours and 24 minutes.
2010 - Appointed to the Board of Governors at QAC, Patron of Ideal for All and Ambassador to West Bromwich Albion Football club.
2011 - Top2Toe challenge ten days of running/cycling from John O’Groats to Lands End for Macmilliam Cancer Support. Received West Bromwich Albion Players award “Contribution to the Community”. 10th consecutive Great North run.
In recognition of Dave’s charity work over the years he was invited to Buckingham Palace for a Christmas reception with the Queen, her summer garden party and also to a function at the House of Lords. Honoured by the Wolverhampton University with an Honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.
2012 - 11th consecutive London Marathon. Changing our Lives charity 240 miles bike ride. Received 2 awards “Justgiving Endurance Fundraiser” and “Griffin Trophy”. 11th Honoury Freeman of the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell. Took part in the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games 2012.
2013 events included:
- 12th consecutive London marathon in April.
- September - 7 in seven bike ride, 7 countries, in 7 days covering over 700 miles from Switzerland, into Germany, France, Luxemburg, Belgium, Holland and finally England and Birmingham New Street.
2014 - Wheels for Change 100k bike ride in aid of Unicef. Aberdovey bike ride. Coast to Coast Challenge East to West across England and through Ireland for Teenage Cancer. 13th Great North Run. 50 mile Gower Coast Run.
2015 - Dave completes 6 gruelling days running over 160 miles across the Sahara Desert for the Albion Foundation.
2016 - New year, new challenge; Escape from Alcatraz! Considered by many the toughest annual triathlon in the world this event tested Dave to his limits.
Dave’s book “From Light To Dark” was launched at Waterstones flagship store in Birmingham and a book signing tour was organised.
2017 - There are 24 Great runs in the 2017 series, starting January in Edinburgh and finishing November in Ethiopia with a variety of distances including 5k, 10k, 10 miles, half marathons and marathons. Fundraising for The Albion Foundation, Dave will aim to complete the whole series.
Please take a moment to have a look on his website, www.blinddaveheeley.co.uk