Today, I'll talk to anyone, anywhere and at anytime.
But I wasn't always this way. The profound deafness left as a result of meningitis, not only robbed me of my hearing but it also deprived me of my speech and with it, the valuable confidence I had built up as a little boy.
That's why I thought this excerpt - taken from my memoirs, would paint a visual picture of the difference and how such a simple inspirational moment had the power to reverberate throughout the remainder of my life.
As I sat there, staring longingly at the boys happily kicking a football around - I so wanted to join them, but I was rooted to the spot.
After all, why would they want to play with me?
I was six years old and unable to speak. I’d be of no use to them, being deaf and unable to hear their calls for the ball.
And I was hampered with this great strap across my chest, full of mechanical aids in a futile attempt to help me hear.
All the bullying had knocked the confidence out of me. If I stayed unnoticed, I’d be left alone.
But still, I so wanted to play.
Then out of the blue, I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up into the kindly eyes of a stranger.
“Do your eyes work?”, he asked. “Yes", I mouthed.
“Do your legs work?”, he asked. “Yes", I mouthed, again.
“Then, what’s stopping you..?” - and with that he gave me a gentle shove in the direction of the boys.
I needn’t have worried. I was a natural and before long, I was the one they all wanted on their team.
All the bullying stopped, my newfound friends and teammates wouldn’t stand for it and stepped in to look after me.
And all of a sudden, life looked good again..."
How that stranger - not seen before or since seen, had lifted me up that incremental step in life - but what a step that was, with far reaching effects that have resonated throughout the remainder of my life to this current day.
It taught me that no matter how scary a situation may seem, if you can take that first step then any dream is achievable - no matter who you are.
I have always tried to retain that brief moment within me and use it as an inspiration to achieve whatever I set out to do.
I re-learnt to speak.
And from that I went on to achieve entry into the UK’s only grammar school for the deaf.
I loved acting and secured a part on a BBC series for two years as a child actor. Despite funding being pulled during my A-level years which resulted in losing my note taker and with it, any chance of gaining my qualifications. But I refocussed on pool and had turned professional by the age of seventeen. By twenty one, I was the world champion.
Always restless, a pool career alone wasn’t enough. I built up a property portfolio. I trekked all over the world as an adventurer, culminating in being the first deaf person to trek the last degree to the North Pole on foot.
Along the way, I’ve been struck by lightning, swept out to sea and lost in a snowstorm. Seen a good friend die in front of me and been shot at in one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
Lost both my parents, married and become a father to two beautiful children
I have had an interesting life and achieved many things with the help of some extra-ordinary people throughout my life, but the one thing I get the most sense of pride from is the charity work I have done over the years.
For me today, my one aim and dream is very simple;
'To do for others, what that stranger did for me.'
"The life-defining power of a stranger's kind moment..."