How blind golfer, 82, overcame adversity to represent England
PUBLISHED: 09:48 18 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:48 18 October 2019
Copyright: Archant 2019
For keen golfer Danny Daniels, being told he would almost completely lose his sight served as a crushing blow.
No sooner had the former RAF engineer found his feet on the course, an important source of joy was snatched right from beneath him.
But the 82-year-old, from Necton, has overcome crippling adversity to become an accomplished blind golfer, finishing unbeaten after three matches as he represented England on the international stage last month.
Mr Daniels, who plays at Barnham Broom, was given a new lease of life when he took up the sport following his retirement in 2002.
However, as sight problems gradually worsened, he was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, eventually leaving him completely blind in his left eye and severely impaired in his right.
"At that stage I was really getting into golf," said Mr Daniels. "The handicap was coming down, I was playing friendly matches - going blind put a stop to all that.
"I felt totally dejected because it took away my independence. I could no longer drive a car which is a problem in Norfolk, and on the course I could no longer walk around safely."
With Mr Daniels distancing himself from golf, his wife, Di, suggested taking up blind golf which requires a guide to provide assistance.
They sought advice from England and Wales Blind Golf (EWBG) and an initially reluctant Mr Daniels - who "just wanted to be normal" - rediscovered his love for the sport, with Mrs Daniels by his side.
A string of impressive results saw Mr Daniels selected to represent EWBG against Scotland in the recent Auld Enemies Cup, where he produced a stunning performance as England were ultimately defeated.
"Playing for England and wearing the colours gave me a thrill I've had very few times," said Mr Daniels, who plays in the B2 category for those with less than 5pc sight.
"That winning putt was out of this world. If I never play for my country again then so be it - I have been there and done it."
Mrs Daniels added: "When he first joined, the England captain said 'he'll be playing for us before long.' Danny just laughed and said 'there's no way at my age.'
"Seeing him progress has made me so proud. It's been wonderful to see his confidence grow and to be a part of it."