The WDBS is today pleased to support World Sight Day 2016, a key date highlighting the impact of eye health in people’s lives.
Focusing on the theme of ‘Stronger Together’ the day is a reminder of the respective roles of different groups, from key decision makers and government officials, to patients and the wider health community, are all crucial and that the more groups that can be brought together, the stronger the eye health community can become.
Earlier this year the WDBS held its first competitive tournament open to group 7 players, ie those with visual disabilities, the Woking Open won by former professional Paul Smith.
In the final he edged out Blackburn’s David Baker, who is partially sighted following the loss of his right eye when he was 19. As he told us recently however, he has not let his disability get in the way of his long-held passion for snooker:
“I first began to play snooker when I was 16,” said Baker. “Not one to give up, following my accident I continued to learn and adjust myself to continue playing snooker. Looking back, I think it’s fair to say that my standard never dropped, it may well have improved due to the fact I now have a single tunnel vision.”
The challenge for Baker has not ended with the loss of his eye however as more recently he has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a medical condition characterised by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure.
“My fibromyalgia poses all sorts of problems and limits me considerably to how much I can play the game. In 2007 I was told that due to this I would never be able to play snooker again and I was totally devastated at the time as I could barely walk. But stubborn is my middle name and slowly I regained some of my strength back, as well as learning how best to cope with this challenge.”
Nearly ten years on from his diagnosis, Baker is back on the baize and considers snooker as something that is more than a hobby to him. As well as the physical benefits, he also considers the sport to have important mental and social benefits that anybody involved with the game can benefit from:
“I can honestly say that snooker has given me strength to cope in any situation, determination and taught me to never give up,” said the 50-year-old. “It helps with concentration, patience and to give you a form of exercise without really knowing it.
“Above all I have been able to meet some fantastic, like-minded people, so overall I can say that snooker has definitely helped me through life and given me some very close friends.”
Baker began his snooker journey playing for the Burnley Road Bowling Club in Accrington over 30 years ago and in 2014 was thrilled to be able to play at a Snooker Legends event alongside 1985 world champion Dennis Taylor and the ever-popular Jimmy White (watch here).
More recently, he heard of the WDBS prior to this year’s Manchester Classic and attended the open day at that event, prior to competing in Woking.
“Someone had mentioned the WDBS on one of the facebook snooker forums that I had joined that day and I got in touch with Chris Hornby (WPBSA Sport Development Manager), who invited me to the event at Manchester to see how it worked and to join in with some of the other disabled people from different categories on the Friday session.
“I enjoyed the experience and this subsequently led to me playing in Woking, which was a fantastic event and gave people the chance to get involved on more equal terms than playing able bodied players.
“It was great to be able to make new friends and to get the feeling that I was part of something special.”
David will be back in action at the WDBS Hull Open, which runs from 11-13 November 2016 at the Tradewell Snooker Centre, Hull. The event is supported by prize fund sponsors Hudgell Solicitors and Think Telecom and you can find out more information, including how to enter here.