A FORMER pupil at Bridley Moor High School left partially blind by diabetes has been selected to represent Team GB at the Blind World Fleet Racing Championships in Chicago, USA.
Chris Albert started losing his sight in 2008 after being struck by the disease and now only has peripheral vision – but that hasn’t stopped him enjoying a sport he first took up aged 15 at Upton Warren Sailing Club.
“Obviously his life has changed radically – he used to enjoy driving – but he would always have a go at anything and he’s thrown himself into the sailing,” said his proud dad Bob.
After school Chris worked as an apprentice at Hydrovane and later in the automotive and aerospace industry before leaving the family home in Lowans Hill View after being headhunted by a company in the north east.
“Chris began having problems with his eyesight eight years ago,” said Bob, “and it is still deteriorating.
“When he started losing his sight it was quite rapid.
“He had a number of laser treatments to try and stop it but his sight continued to fail and now he is classed as severally visually impaired.”
Forced to give up his job the 49-year-old started working for South Tyneside Council teaching children with sight or hearing problems about modern technology.
And two years ago he re-discovered his love of sailing and bought a dinghy and is now an active member of South Shields Sailing Club.
He thrived on the water and now he has been selected to represent Team GB as part of a four man crew at the championship in Chicago which run from September 9-13.
His job will be to control the mainsail on the boat.
“He’s had to raise all the money to go out there himself, paying for the airfares, food and accommodation, so he has done really well,” said Bob.
“We are so proud of him.”