Allan Russell

Allan was born in Glasgow but has lived all over West and Central Scotland. He went to school and college in Glasgow before being accepted for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Instead of continuing with his education, he decided to get out into the big wide world and seek employment. Allan has had several different job roles working as a Researcher for a marketing company, a Customer Service Advisor with BT and a self-employed Business Advisor before he finally joined RNIB Connect Radio as a Presenter and Broadcast Producer.

Allan's eyesight was never perfect and he has always had to wear glasses due to a condition called Leber's Retinal Dysplasia. This condition is caused by the muscles and nerves in the eye not forming properly. Eyesight is correctable with glasses until around mid 20's when the sight begins to deteriorate over a few years, leaving the the person with light and dark perception only. It's a very rare condition affecting around one in five million people. As Allan himself says, "If only I was that lucky with the lottery!".  

Despite his sight deteriorating over the years leaving him with only light and dark perception, Allan is keen to look at the positives in his life. He firmly believes his visual impairment has forced him to work harder, aim higher, and try things he may not have done as a fully sighted person.  

Allan's condition has brought him into contact with many people, both blind and sighted, whom he considers to be good friends - with no outdated stereotypes or discriminatory hang ups. Allan says, "If I hadn't been visually impaired, I wouldn't have followed my current path. I wouldn't be a father to two fantastic twins or have my own radio show. So, on the whole, I look at the glass as being half full despite society's negative and misplaced attitudes about what a blind person can achieve." 

"The most important thing I've learned while working at RNIB Connect Radio is that everyone has a voice, no matter how loud or quiet, and together we can inform and educate people."

Allan pursues a variety of pastimes and leisure interests. He's always been interested in martial arts and he holds a black belt in judo, brown belt in karate and practices wing chung which he says is a great martial art for people who are blind or partially sighted.

Allan cycles regularly with friends on tandems and enjoys downhill and cross country skiing both in the UK and abroad. He does take some time off from being an action man though, and loves to go out with friends to the cinema and enjoys lazing in front of a good DVD at home.      

Allan's first contact with the RNIB was when he started at the radio station as a volunteer, helping to research, produce and present shows. His experience of working in a fast paced media environment has increased his knowledge, skills and confidence. He says "Being back in employment has restored my self respect, which I felt I had lost slightly when my sight deteriorated. It has also given me the confidence to stand by my judgements and to speak out when I feel that I have something to say. The most important thing I've learned while working in radio is that everyone has a voice, no matter how loud or quiet, and that together, we can inform and educate people. We're here to give information to help improve people's lives, and my hope is that each show helps to inspire people to gain new skills, get a job or take up a new hobby." 

Alan hopes to continue his career in radio though he'd like to also indulge in his love of travel. He says "A radio station in the Bahamas would be good!"