‘I’m often asked: how do you know what are weeds if you can’t see?’

PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 September 2014

Blind Harold Hill man Karl Willett, as a love for gardening it is among his greatest hobbies.

Blind Harold Hill man Karl Willett, as a love for gardening it is among his greatest hobbies.


When blind Harold Hill man Karl Willett lost his job, even his love of gardening fell by the wayside.

The green-fingered 55-year-old counts the pursuit among his greatest hobbies, in spite of the obvious challenges presented by his lack of sight, but it took generous support from a charity to get him back on his feet.

“I’m often asked, ‘How do you know what are weeds and what are plants if you can’t see’?” he said.

“How do you know if you’ve mowed all of the lawn?

“Well, I just feel my way around the garden. I rely on my hands to tell me if the grass is getting too long or I feel the texture of the vegetables to tell me when they’re ready to be picked.”

Karl completely lost his sight at the age of 13, when fluid on the brain crushed his optic nerves, meaning that both had to be removed.

After leaving school, he went to work in a double-glazing factory but was made redundant in 2012, after 34 years.

It was then that he contacted Action for Blind People and enrolled on the charity’s living with sight loss course in Romford.

“I completely lost my confidence when I lost my job,” Karl said.

“I would shut myself away and not go out. I lost interest in all the things I used to enjoy, including my beloved garden.”

But now, he added: “I have a new lease of life and I have my confidence back to do the things I have always enjoyed.

“I’d recommend the course to anyone who is worried about visual impairment and what the future holds. It really has changed my outlook on life.”

• For further information about Action for Blind People’s services in Romford and across London, contact its London and South East team on 020 7391 2151 or email actionlondon&

Read more:

Blind runner and jogging cabbie in 24-hour Hornchurch race
Struck blind at 23 Steven must navigate life’s barriers to regain his independence

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