Inspirational champion for blind people

Chris Maule-Oatway using his sat nav device in Magdalen Street, Norwich. Chris Maule-Oatway using his sat nav device in Magdalen Street, Norwich.

Written by Paul Durrant for the blind association
Sunday, August 24, 2014
11:17 AM

Inspirational Chris Maule-Oatway, a blind man who championed the cause of the visually impaired in Norfolk for many years, has died aged 65.

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EVENING NEWS INVESTIGATION INTO THE OBSTACLES WHICH BLIND AND PARTIALLY SIGHTED PEOPLE FACE.
CHRIS MAULE-OATWAY MAKES HIS WAY DOWN MAGDALEN STREET. een 16/8/02EVENING NEWS INVESTIGATION INTO THE OBSTACLES WHICH BLIND AND PARTIALLY SIGHTED PEOPLE FACE. CHRIS MAULE-OATWAY MAKES HIS WAY DOWN MAGDALEN STREET. een 16/8/02

With his cane and cheery smile, Mr Maule-Oatway became a familiar figure around Norwich – fiercely independent and never allowing his blindness prevent him from living life to the full.

As equipment adviser for the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind, he worked tirelessly to support fellow blind people and was an articulate advocate on issues affecting them.

NNAB chief executive Max Marriner said: “Chris will be fondly remembered as a proud and respected ambassador for the visually impaired in Norfolk, epitomising all that our charity stands for.

“He kept abreast of all the latest technological changes, which meant he had the knowledge and authority to advise people when life was at its bleakest on how to continue living as independently and confidently as possible.

“He also cared, and stood up to the powers-that-be many a time to make sure the rights and needs of blind people were recognised.”

Two years ago, Mr Maule-Oatway, who lived in Grove Avenue, Norwich, astonished Norfolk county councillors when he gave evidence from notes in Braille to a meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee at a time when the council planned to withdraw free bus passes to blind people.

They were so impressed by his impassioned rhetoric, the decision was eventually reversed, which means blind people continue to receive free travel on the county’s buses.

Born blind, Mr Maule-Outway grew up in Surrey and worked for the Greater London Council before moving to Norfolk in the 1980s, where he worked for Norfolk County Council as an IT programmer before joining the NNAB full-time five years ago.

An accomplished singer and musician, he was a member of the choir at St Thomas’ Church on Earlham Road, Norwich, the Norwich Philharmonic and University of East Anglia Choirs, as well as being a “sing-a-long” accordion player.

Mr Maule-Outway was also a great fan of real ale and a regular at Norwich’s Trafford Arms pub.

Landlord and former Sheriff of Norwich Chris Higgins said: “Chris was a lovely man – the life and soul of the party. He will be sadly missed.

“He never once gave the impression that he was sorry for himself. There were so many facets to him as an individual. Everyone at the Trafford loved him and we’re already planning his wake, which he would have loved.”

Mr Maule-Outway’s funeral will be held at St Thomas’ Church, Earlham Road, Norwich at 1.15pm on September 1.

Would you like to pay tribute to Mr Maule-Oatway? Email newsdeck@archant.co.uk

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