A Ballymena man has penned a book about how the loss of sight opened up a world of opportunities through blind golf.
Drew Cochrane is a well known figure not just around his home town of Ballymena but on golf courses around the world.
Known affectionately as ‘The Blind Golfer’, Drew lost his sight at the age of 39 and, urged on by a friend, he has penned the memoirs of his life, his diagnosis, his subsequent depression, but most importantly, how the loss of his sight opened up a world of opportunities through blind golf.
Now set to release his book ‘From The Carry Row to Tokyo’, 78-year-old Drew said: “I wanted to show people that there is life after blindness; a great life. Blind golf saved my life.”
Drew said he had no idea that his life story would be of interest but Una Mulgrew from RNIB Connect encouraged the Ballymena man to put pen to paper. Alongside, Brid McKernon from Multi-Media Heritage, Drew, Una and Brid have produced a beautiful story of Drew’s life, struggles and successes all complemented by nostalgic and meaningful photography.
Much-loved Drew is receiving a host of help, including that of media personality and good friend Jackie Fullerton.
Jackie said: “You can’t begin to imagine what losing your sight at 39 years old would do to you. I know it took my good friend Drew tumbling into the depths of despair but I really admire his fortitude and his strength in being able to tackle it head on. When Drew found blind golf, he found a way forward in his life. He deserves a lot of credit.”
Drew comes from a family of six and his brother Raymond was a famous artist.
“I always said that Raymond was the artist and I was the con artist!” said Drew.
The walls of the home Drew shares with wife Dympna are adorned with Raymond’s paintings and he talks fondly of his brother, who sadly passed away in October 2018.
Another of Drew’s brothers - Ian was a respected and prolific author in London who had published six books. Ian shared the same hereditary condition as Drew – Leber’s Optic Atrophy; a condition passed down from their mother.
Ian passed away in 2004 but shared a special bond with Drew while he was alive, offering his reassurance, support and strength after Drew received his own sight loss diagnosis in 1980.
Drew said: “Ian gave me strength after I became blind. We were great buddies and he was a great help to me. He would be very proud of what I’m doing today. This book is a tribute to my three brothers and my sister.”
The book is due to be launched on March 25 at The Braid, Ballymena Town Hall, Museum and Arts Centre.
Priced £10, ‘From The Carry Row to Tokyo’ will be available to buy at a number of outlets including The Braid.