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Robert Ainsley-Raffel

Blind diver, Robert, is an inspiration

A blind man has conquered his disability to plunge into the underwater world. Robert Ainsley-Raffel was born blind but that hasn't stopped the have-a-go Geordie making a splash with the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC). They have helped the 25-year-old from Hexham complete his training in a swimming pool with flying colours and now Robert is looking forward to his first open water dives and passing his Ocean Diver qualification.

Not that Robert has ever let his disability stop him tackling a challenge. Remarkably, he was educated at mainstream schools and attended agricultural college, where he obtained a national diploma as a land-based technician. But it's passing his dive theory with 100% and completing his confined water dives in a swimming pool that has given Robert the biggest thrill. He said: "I haven't got a problem being blind it's other people that aren't prepared to step outside the box and find a way around problems that I have the biggest trouble working with. That certainly wasn't the case with Regional Coach, Dave Lucas. Right from the start he was prepared to give it a go and train me". They worked around problems, adapting traditional methods of skill demonstrations and even used a white stick as a guide in the pool to stop Robert banging his head...

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