Climbing Kilimanjaro, carrying the Olympic Torch and being named Scottish teacher of the year - it’s been an amazing six months for a local deaf blind man.
Stephen Joyce (38), of Larbert, has overcome his own visual and hearing impairments to not only lead an active and satisfying life, but also make a real difference to the lives of others.
The father of two, a training manager with Deafblind Scotland for 15 years, was named Scotland Teacher of the Year in the 2012 Signature Annual Awards - just days after he took part in the Olympic Torch relay, carrying the flame through Skinflats on June 13.
He said: “It was such an incredible day. Afterwards my family, friends and colleagues from Deafblind Scotland helped me celebrate the occasion in Larbert Old Parish Church hall.
“I was still buzzing from the event when my colleague Ellen broke the news I had been awarded Scottish Teacher of the Year by Signature. I couldn’t believe it at first, it was such a surprise.
“To be recognised for doing something I love is wonderful and very humbling.”
Stephen has Usher Syndrome, a rare genetic condition which causes deafness from birth followed by a gradual loss of sight.
Despite this, he travels all over Scotland delivering awareness training and various forms of communication to all sectors of the community, particularly public services.
He said: “I am very proud of the work we do at Deafblind Scotland - as well as supporting our members who live with dual sensory impairment, we also educate others who are unaware of the daily challenges they may have to overcome.
“Deafblind Scotland provides people like me with information, advice and specialised support and is the only organisation of its kind in Scotland working with adults with acquired deafblindness.
“I teach from first hand experience and few know better than me the value of Deafblind Scotland’s services.”
Stephen’s colleague Ellen Killen nominated him for the Signature award.
She said: “We get such great feedback from learners about how much they enjoy their lessons with Stephen. He uses a lot of technology in order to give people the best support for their learning.”
Jim Edwards, Signature chief executive, said: “Nominations like this are truly inspirational.”
And if wife Tracy and children Cameron (9) and Skye (2) were not proud enough of him, Stephen managed yet another major accomplishment in March when he reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, raising over £12,000 for Deafblind Scotland.
He said: “I was born with only four of the five senses and have to live with the fact another is disappearing and there is nothing I can do about it. My sight is getting steadily worse but I still have time to see the world through my own eyes.”
Now shortlisted for Signature’s national Teacher of the Year award, Stephen will find out in November if he has another accolade to round off an amazing 2012.
Visit www.deafblindscotland.org,uk and www.signature.org.uk/awards for more information.