Deaf and blind man vows to travel world

The Weston Mercury
Thursday, 4th November, 2010
Beth Henzell

A blind and partially deaf Weston man has set himself the biggest challenge of his life – to visit every single country in the world.

Globetrotter Tony Giles has already travelled hundreds of thousands of miles and visited 54 countries since he began his backpacking voyages.

The 30-year-old was born with a rare eye condition, and, as well as being totally blind, is 80 per cent deaf.

But Tony, who grew up in Greenland Road, Milton, is determined to show people that they can achieve any goal, no matter what hurdles are thrown in front of them.

He said: “For me travelling is the biggest life challenge I can get, I desire to visit every country in the world.

“Disability I believe is in the mind, it is mind over matter. Disabled people, in particular blind people, can do and achieve anything they set their mind to.

“It’s about having a goal, becoming confident and going out there and accomplishing it.”

Tony’s interest in travelling began when he went to America through his specialist school in Coventry when he was 16, and he later travelled around the UK with his friend.

But his real passion for backpacking began when he was at university in Northampton reading American studies, and he was given the opportunity to travel around the US in 2000.

The following year he embarked on a tour of Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Thailand, and his epic challenge was born.

He added: “For somebody who can’t see, beauty has a lot to do with what you smell and feel. I’ve learnt to use all the senses of my body – my nerves, my touch, my sense of smell.

“Meeting other like-minded people from all over the world enabled me to understand that being blind wasn’t such a problem – it was my personality that people were interested in not my blindness.”

Tony, who has visited five of the world’s six continents, toured Latin America and Africa in 2004, and Europe the following year.

He has spent the past three years backpacking around more countries in Europe, and has also been to Asia, Africa and North America.

Among his action-packed travels Tony has sky-dived in Australia, bungee jumped in New Zealand, hiked up the Rocky Mountains and has even ventured to the southern-most tip of South America.

Tony regularly comes back to Weston to visit his family, who still live in Milton.

He has told of his awe-inspiring adventures in his book entitled Seeing The World My Way.