The power of vision without vision

A powerful speech by Lord Holmes of Richmond

Lord Holmes’ address to an audience of 1800 international students at the Chevening Orientation

It’s not everyday that you get to meet someone who truly inspires you and makes you think about your purpose in life. I happened to have such a day last month, when I had the honour of being in an audience addressed by Lord Holmes of Richmond.

Christopher Holmes, Baron Holmes of Richmond, MBE, is a British former Paralympic swimmer and life peer in the House of Lords. His collection of medals: nine gold, five silver, and one bronze.

And if that doesn’t make him unique enough, being blind does.

At the young age of 14, Lord Holmes showed promise as a swimmer and was a star pupil at his school. Like many ambitious students, he had big dreams about what he wanted to be and achieve. But life had other plans.

Imagine going to bed one night, only to wake up the next morning and find your world plunged into darkness. The teenager’s life momentarily came to a grinding halt. I say momentarily, because two months later, the same now-blind boy was back in the same classroom and same swimming pool.

He had lost his sight, but not his vision. His dreams were still intact.

“Be the leader of your own life,” he told us. “Believe in yourself; believe in your family; believe in your friends. But most importantly, believe in what you want to achieve.” He spoke of the impact that the people you surround yourself with have on your own motivation and existence; of how there is no such thing at all as individual success — it’s the success of the team and the people that you work with that truly make you successful.

His powerful words have stayed with me since, because as a student of Multimedia Journalism, I realise everyday that my team is everything; that I am nothing without it. I realise that one day, I may have to lead an entire group of people — much like a driver behind the wheel of a bus. I may even need my passengers for directions. But it will be my responsibility to keep their trust and let them know that the ultimate destination is correct.

And I can only truly do this if, despite the circumstances, my vision is intact.

Lord Holmes of Richmond received a standing ovation at the Chevening Orientation. His speech touched a chord with over 1800 international students.