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Globetrotter Tony makes light of his disabilities

Herald Express
19th October 2010
By Emma Pearcy

A DEAF and blind Teignmouth man who has recently had a kidney transplant is leading a globetrotting lifestyle despite his disabilities.

Tony Giles has left the shores of his home town to travel the world, and has written a book about his wanderlust.

He says: “I have proved that nothing — not even disabilities — can stop you living a full life.”

Tony Giles was born in Weston-super-Mare in 1978 and was diagnosed at a young age with cone dystrophy, a rare eye condition, and photophobia, an extreme sensitivity to light.

He maintained some vision until he was 18, but lost all sight except the ability to recognise bright sunlight.

At the age of six he developed nerve sensory hearing loss that has progressively worsened over time, and is now partially deaf.

Despite this, he gained a BA in American studies from Northampton University in 2001 and an MA in transatlantic studies from Birmingham University in 2003.

He has travelled from a young age, and his most recent journeys included trips to the USA, Sri Lanka and Iceland.

The 30-year-old’s book, The World My Way, recounts his pleasure-seeking adrenalin-fuelled experiences.

He said: “Travelling is more than just seeing the beautiful scenery or landscape with your eyes.

“It concerns using all the body’s senses, being able to engage with people, feeling different textures of land and plants, eating unknown foods and hearing new kinds of music, being exposed to an alternative, exciting culture and emerging into another country’s qualities, and to return home knowing more than I did before I left.”

When he isn’t living out of a rucksack, he spends his time back home in Teignmouth — and despite seeing some amazing worldwide sights, he still misses the small South Devon town when he is away.

He said: “The thing I miss most about Teignmouth is the sea air and the luxury of walking by and listening to the sea each day.”

Tony urges anyone who wants to see what the world has to offer to seize the day, no matter if they are able-bodied or live with a disability or illness.

He said: “I would say ‘take it one step at a time: do research, build confidence by doing small trips or go with a friend’.

“I can travel blind because of four things: confidence, wanting to travel, good mobility skills and good planning. That’s all anyone needs.”

Seeing The World My Way is to be published by SilverWood Books later this month, priced £8.99. It can be ordered from their website at http://www.silverwoodbooks.co.uk.