Josh and Ringo

Josh was 15 when he experienced a rapid deterioration in his vision. After months of testing he was diagnosed with a genetic condition called Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy, which means he has no central vision. It was a pivotal point in his life where his friends were starting college and learning to drive.

It was really challenging. I was a teenager and I had to adjust and learn how to carry on. I had to stop playing football, which was a big thing for me. I was only 15 but I religiously read the newspaper every day which I couldn’t do anymore. My friends were all starting their driving lessons, but I couldn’t.
Josh, guide dog owner

After finishing his GCSE’s Josh decided to go to the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford. It meant living away from his family, but Josh says he chose the college so he could blend in and study in a comfortable environment. He then went on to Sheffield University and after graduating began working straight away.

Ten years ago, he first applied for a guide dog but didn’t continue with his application.

He says: “It just wasn’t the right time for me. I was still quite young and I don’t think I’d really fully come to terms with my sight loss. I never wanted to tell anyone, I tried to hide it.”

But, in 2019 Josh was knocked over by an electric car while crossing a road.

Josh says: “I was just about managing to get around, but it was getting harder. Especially if the sun was bright or when it was getting dark. When I was hit by the car it was a wake-up call. I have two young children, so I need to keep them safe when I’m with them on my own.”

Josh called Guide Dogs and a Guide Dogs Mobility Specialist came out to see him and to understand how a guide dog could help him.

Josh says: “I was matched with Ringo in 2020 when the country was in the full swing of the pandemic. I’d never had a guide dog or a dog before, so it was a lot to take on. The training was pretty intense, but it was excellent. They taught me everything I needed to know and made me feel really confident and comfortable.”

“The difference Ringo has made is absolutely massive. Not just to me but my whole family. He makes me feel so confident and takes away the anxiety of getting around. I travel to London for work on the train and he’s brilliant getting me there and back safely and through the busy streets. Having him really has been life changing.”

“He changed my mindset too. Now, when people see Ringo they know I have a vision impairment and I realized I don’t need to hide it. My kids play football and when I go with Ringo I don’t have to explain to the other parents, they understand”

Last year Josh graduated with his second degree, a law conversion at the University of Birmingham. And in September he will start his barrister training at the University of Law.

He says: “I probably would have studied law many years ago, but I just didn’t have the confidence back then. I’ve got more confident over the years, by working and studying, and now with Ringo I feel I can do anything. I’m really looking excited about pursuing this next part of my career.”

Josh and Ringo star in our latest TV advert about how we help people living with sight loss.