The Beauty Of Resiliency In A Life After Sight Loss

Few things have such a huge impact on happiness and the enjoyment, depth, and fun of life as the friendships we have.

It could be the friendships with people in our community, workplace, gym, or school. Close friendships can evolve with the people we’ve known for a few months, years, or since we were kids. Personally, I spend a lot of time cultivating and nurturing an array of friendships, while also striving to be a good friend.

A photo of Jill with her gorgeous smile. She has long blonde hair and her makeup is spectacularSometimes. If we’re fortunate enough. The most priceless bonds can form with people we have never met in person. Perhaps they live in another city or state, or halfway across the world. I have a friend who lives in a land far, far away. Her name is Jill Barkley, and I’ve never met her In person. Well, let me tell you, that little detail hasn’t stopped us from becoming best friends. I can’t wait for the day when we meet and talk about our friendship, so treasured and deep – not on FaceTime, but face to face!!! 

I was introduced to Jill In early 2016 and started doing a weekly segment together on her RNIB Connect Radio “Morning Mix” show. It’s definitely one of  the highlights of my week! I came across a featured story on MakeHer Movement, that will tell you about this gorgeous girl who lost her sight, but not her fight. Her resiliency is nothing short of true beauty.

Here is Jill’s story

Imagine MANY stunning, sensational, beautiful colours unfolding before you… the only way to make you experience the exquisite beauty of these colours is to tell you Jill’s story.

Once upon a time there lived a fragile teenager named Jill who was watching the most beautiful New Year’s Eve fireworks in Switzerland. Six months later Jill aged 19 was completely blind.

Due to a condition called Diabetic Retinopathy, which was a result of Type 1 Diabetes, Jill’s sudden sight loss was a situation she had to learn to accept very quickly. The visits to the best doctors and the best treatments only brought Jill to her knees crying helplessly – till one day she stood up, wiped her tears and accepted the colour black.

Now that’s also about the time her colour black started turning colourful.

Before getting to the core of the story – here are some notes from the diary of a teenager who turned blind literally overnight!

· Me or my family didn’t know anybody who was blind – NOBODY. So how does one make blindness a way of life? No “How to” book available.

· Nothing changes for you when you turn blind overnight – you love people just the same. Family, friends, neighbours etc. But does everyone love you the same? See you the same? Or do they view you as an exhibit?

· When your little brother’s heart is broken because you will never be able to see him again, that’s when you turn your life around for him. You decide that no matter what, you will never give up – you will not end up just weaving baskets and answering calls.

· Have as much fun as possible Jill

Back to Jill’s story….

After a short stint at Hospital Radio in Ireland which she loved, Jill travelled to Scotland to study sound engineering – she was the topper in her class of 80 boys. She later enrolled for a media degree, after which she worked as a journalist and absolutely loved it. Moving forward, Jill joined RNIB Connect Radio in Scotland and became a radio presenter. Over a long heartfelt call, Jill was INSPIRING MakeHer Movement with her story.

We figured out one thing – it’s wasn’t about how much fight there was in Jill – it was about, how much ‘JILL’ there was in the fight! 

Which translated to – Never, Never, NEVER, Ever Give Up!

The colours were sometimes bleak – She was deceived by her boyfriend after she became blind who stole all her money, severely attacked by two men when she was walking with her guide dog, hospitalised for two weeks after being attacked, rejected many times when she went for job interviews, the death of her mother, violent relationships in her life… and every month this year something set her back. A heart condition, extreme eye pain, badly bullied by a trusted person, tripped and fell and then her house flooded!

Isn’t that enough to cave you in or do you tell yourself like Jill always tells herself – ‘When you hit rock bottom there is only one way to go – UP!’

Photo of Jill, her husband Ian, and guide dog LucasThis story is incomplete if it didn’t mention this – Jill would go through this all over again just to have met the love of her life – her husband, Ian. 

And hence – The beauty of being blind is the story of Jill Barkley. While she is blind for life – the colours are different and exquisite everyday. ~ Posted on MakeHer Movement |July 2016


Photo of Jill holding her Miniature dachshund, PaddyNowadays, Jill lives in Glasgow Scotland, with her husband, Ian, and her precious puppy, Paddy. She is still currently the radio presenter of the daily “Morning Mix Show” at RNIB Connect Radio – The UK’s first radio station for blind and partially sighted people. She is also a presenter at BBC Radio Scotland with”The Jill Barkley Show”. Lastly, she is my UK BFF and I love her to bits! ♥️ ♥️

5 Comments on “The Beauty Of Resiliency In A Life After Sight Loss

  1. Amazing story thanks Maria for sharing
    I hope you do get to meet face to face
    Some day.


  2. I love when you and Jill are on the radio together. I’m so glad to know her life story too,. When you are ready to fly to Glasgow let me know!


  3. Maria, thank you for sharing your lovey story of “two friends an ocean apart,.. but not forever.” I am glad you have found each other. You both share courage, strength and friendship!


  4. Hola Maria! My name is Lauren. I hope you’re doing well! I loved listening to your podcast episode on RNFB! I was wondering where I could buy Jill’s book and yours if you’re writing one. Your story inspired me! I’m blind myself, due to ROP. I’d love to share my story with you!


  5. Hi Maria,
    Thanks for sharing Jill’s story. I’ve heard so much about her, and now I understand why she is so special.

    Whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself, your positive posts inspire me to stop whining and get back out on the playing field of life. I’m glad you’re on my team.


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