The Irish Post 'Inspiration in the Community Award' winner is Billy McAllister

The Irish Post 'Inspiration in the Community Award' winner is Billy McAllister

Billy McAllister's story is one of rising to the toughest challenge life can throw at you and keep moving forward.

Billy (L) extricating himself from a bunker

IRISH POST AWARD winner Billy McAllister from Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, is, quite simply, one the world’s greatest blind golfers.

Billy has been blind since 2009 — he woke up one morning to find he had totally lost his sight. Diabetes had caused both of his retinas to stop functioning; literally overnight he had become completely and utterly blind.

Further tragedy unfolded as he subsequently lost his job and his home over the following months, and his marriage foundered. He’d had a comfortable living in the financial sector, but that was gone.

He even had to resort to sleeping rough for a while.

But somehow Billy pulled his life back on track, and in an almost counter-intuitive move took up golf.

Blind golf is very much a team sport. The guides-cum-caddies describe each hole, distances, hazards and ball lie to the golfers. But it is an international sport administered by the International Blind Golf Association.

But Billy believes he has some advantages over sighted golfers, claiming he can read a green better with his feet than someone sighted can with their eyes.

His progress through the game has been swift, and he has won just about every domestic trophy as well as coming third in the world championships.

Billy has since remarried, and is based in southeast England. He is proudly part of the 1 per cent of blind people in employment, whilst trying to support blind, disability and diabetes-affected people.

His inspirational story is one of triumphing over the most difficult of circumstances.