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Blindness has not stopped Norwich skier

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:35 01 July 2010

Amy Ottaway at Norfolk Ski Club in Trowse, Norwich

Amy Ottaway at Norfolk Ski Club in Trowse, Norwich

Matthew Sparkes

She has been blind since birth but that has not stopped brave Norwich schoolgirl Amy Ottaway from taking to the slopes and learning to ski.

She has been blind since birth but that has not stopped brave Norwich schoolgirl Amy Ottaway from taking to the slopes and learning to ski.

The 16-year-old suffers from microphthalmia and coloboma (corr) which means she has no sight in her right eye and only around 4pc in her left.

But thanks to guidance from specially-trained instructors at Norfolk Ski Club, in Trowse, she is preparing for a family trip to the snowy slopes of Austria.

She began lessons last year after enjoying a taster day for young disabled people at the club, organised by the Micro and Anophthalmic Childrens Society.

It was this that gave her the confidence to sign up for regular classes and work hard to become an accomplished skier.

Amy can see very little unless it is extremely close to her face, so instructors ski alongside her on the slope to tell her when to turn and warn her when to slow down.

She said: "I just need a bit of extra support, someone telling me whether there are people coming up behind.

"The actual lessons are probably similar to normal, but I can go at my own pace. The instructors have been so helpful. It's the fact that you get the one-to-one attention that really helps. They can really focus on me and my needs.

"I really enjoy it, its something I love. It's an achievement as well."

Amy is studying towards her GCSEs at Wymondham College, where she boards during the week, and then returns to her parents' Norwich home in Bracondale at weekends.

She said that living away from home had made her more independent and taught her to do tasks for herself, like her own laundry.

"I think I should just make the most of what I have and focus on things I can do. Skiing just happens to be something I can do and I'm just really enjoying it," she said.

"I can do most things but they have to be adapted slightly. I'm a very confident person. I try not to let my disability affect my life. I try to throw myself into everything.”

And now she has something concrete to work towards as the whole family has booked a skiing holiday in Austria just after Christmas.

Her father, Bill Ottaway, 47, who also went to Wymondham College, said that learning to ski had been a “great achievement” for Amy.

“She's sort of got that attitude where she concentrates on what she can do, not what she can't. She's very determined.”

He and his wife, Paula, 44, who works at Norwich City College, both started taking lessons while they were waiting at the club for Amy.

For more information about skiing lessons, including adaptive classes for disabled people, visit www.norfolkski.com or call 01603 662781

Are you overcoming a disability to learn a sport? Call reporter Matthew Sparkes on 01603 772439 or email matthew.sparkes@archant.co.uk

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