On 28th September 2007, Chris Nowell was hit by shrapnel from a Taliban Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) while serving with The King’s Royal Hussars in Afghanistan. This fractured Chris's skull, leading to an emergency evacuation, and Chris waking up at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital after multiple operations, completely blind.
This life changing event was to lead Chris to discover his love of landscape photography and the Peak District.
As the swelling in Chris's brain subsided, some sight returned, but has left him registered blind and unable to drive.
He also had to rebuild his life and regain his independence. Strengthening his ability to walk and re-learning basic, childlike maths and English, practising how to read and write again. "Overall it was generally learning how to live your life as an adult from the very beginning."
As part of his recuperation, Chris arrived at Blind Veterans UK in Sheffield where he was taught computer skills, such as touch typing and basic IT. During a particularly frustrating day, his advisor Dave spoke to him about his own landscape photography. At the end of the chat, Dave left him with a camera and a few tips, before offering some painfully honest feedback.
By chance it happened that Blind Veterans UK was to hold its first ever photography-based training week at the Sheffield centre, and Chris decided to enrol and get his first camera - a Fujifilm bridge camera - and Chris has never looked back.
"My journey into photography was like someone had lifted the cloud that had been hanging over me for the previous year"
Since the start, Chris has built his skill, combining his love for the peak district with his passion for landscape photography to create some stunning images.
At Vanguard, we first met Chris in 2015 and his story, passion and skill soon convinced us to back him in our own little way, and to become one of our first Vanguard UK Ambassadors. We've never looked back and he never ceases to inspire us with his determination and enthusiasm.