21st June 2024

About Me

Thank you for your interest in my site.  I hope that my story will inspire you to take control of your freedom, wealth, and future.

My life has never been as good as it is now.  I was brought up with the mindset that you should carve out a career, work hard at your “job for life”, and create a pot of money to support you in retirement.  Is that how life in the 21st century is panning out?

Because I was born blind, my Mum developed a fierce passion to ensure I was able to be independent as she didn’t want me living with her into my middle age and beyond! I can remember her trying to teach me to tie my own shoelaces.  I don’t know how she did it – I was ambidextrous leaning towards left-handed and she sat opposite me trying to work out how to teach me.

When I started school, no one knew how much I could actually see.

abot me 1In the 1960s if you had a sight impairment you either went to a ‘partially sighted’ school or a ‘blind’ school.  As I had a little sight I was sent to a partially sighted school.  When I say a little sight, I couldn’t read the blackboard – in fact, I could barely see the blackboard at all!  I used to get tripped up by the other kids who could see more than me.  This was not what my mum had envisaged for my start in life.  By the time I was eight years old, my results were trailing way behind my younger brother, so my mum challenged the authorities and got me transferred to Dorton House School for the Blind in Sevenoaks.

At last, I began to thrive, even though I was at boarding school in a big, scary, and imposing building which at first I had thought of as a prison!  At Dorton House, I found my true self, my true blind self.  I learnt Braille.  I wasn’t academically gifted, but I quickly began to enjoy the outdoor life, excelling at track & field, swimming, canoeing, judo, rock climbing, and sailing.  This led to my representing Great Britain in swimming at the 1980 Paralympics.

Nonetheless, my career options were severely limited.  As a teenager in the 1970s, I wanted to be a sound engineer or a physiotherapist.  I was told by my elders and, dare I say it, betters, that to be a sound engineer I needed to be able to see the colours of the wires – how could I do that?  To be a physio I needed at least 3 A-levels; how could I achieve that when I was barely coping with O-levels?  Have a go at tuning a piano, they said, because that’s what people like you do.

I listened to the grown-ups’ advice and found that I could do that – I was naturally musical and enjoyed the technical side of piano repairs and maintenance.  I spent three years gaining my piano tuning diploma with honours, and then successfully set up in business  That business grew throughout the 1980s until the UK hit a recession.

Fortunately, part of the mindset of the day was to get onto the property ladder, and so in 1988 I bought my first flat.  In those days it was easy; you didn’t have to think about loan-to-value ratios or help-to-buy schemes – you just had to save for a deposit and the bank would lend you up to three times your annual income (a letter from a friendly accountant would cover that!).  And so I bought my first property for £34,000.  That flat would now be worth in the region of £200,000.  If only I had known then what I know now!

about me 2The recession in the 1990s was a bad time for my piano tuning business, and it never really recovered.  Also by this time technology was causing the number of piano-owners to dwindle.  Plus, after 20 years in the business I was getting bored – the work was simply no longer challenging or rewarding.

By now the technology that was, on the one hand, losing me business, on the other was offering me new opportunities.

The same digital technology that enabled electronic keyboards to sound like real instruments also enabled computers to talk!  For the first time, I had near-equal access to information as the sighted world.  I could create and read documents, send and receive emails, and use the Internet.

about me 3I became hungry for a new direction. Coupled with this I finally found my perfect partner in life, my wife Catherine, who supported me and encouraged me to study NLP, life coaching, and ultimately property investment.  I became a business coach, ran seminars, and established four business networking groups.

During my life’s journey, and because of various pitfalls along the way, I started and stopped three different pensions.  I was told that for every £1 I paid in, the government would contribute £1.  I was also told that if I wanted to, I could draw on those pensions at the age of 50.  Just before I celebrated my 50th birthday in 2012, they changed the minimum age at which I could draw my pension.  To 55!  Who knows what it may be changed to in the future?

Not only was I scuppered by the change in pension thresholds, but when I had my pensions review with a financial adviser a few years back, the three were worth £36,000 in total.  They were then amalgamated into one fund, which grew to £41,000.  It subsequently dropped to £21,000.  I don’t know what it is worth now.  To be frank I don’t care.  How can I plan a secure future when I have no control over how much income I will have to live on?

The two major lessons this has taught me are:

1. By tuning pianos, I was selling my time for money.  This means my income was always going to be limited by how much time I was able to work.

2. Governments and institutions have control of your pension money.  You do not.

I ultimately decided my passion was for property, and I could totally see how it would create financial security for my family and me.  I enjoy viewing properties and I love the negotiation and relationship-building with agents and vendors.  I can smell damp at 10 paces and I’m a dab-hand at analysing the sounds and textures of old walls.  I trained with the biggest and most successful training company in the UK.

about me 4Today Catherine and I are enjoying residual income from a growing property portfolio, and our income can grow exponentially, not purely according to how many hours we work!  In fact, most mornings we treat ourselves to breakfast in bed, and we are considering buying a holiday home in South Wales to be able to spend more time with our children and grandchildren.

about me 5My guide dog Jon and I make frequent visits to the local swimming pool as I still enjoy swimming to keep fit.  And I have finally persuaded Catherine to buy a tandem so we can get out into the fresh air and enjoy the Cheshire countryside around where we live.

We have also been able to buy our present home for cash, meaning that it can never be taken away from us.