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To mark the 25th anniversary of The Albion Foundation, blind coach Chris Winston told his inspirational story.

Whilst watching an England football match at home with his parents, 21 year old Chris realised that something was wrong.

“I noticed a change in my eyesight and the players began to blend into the pitch”, Chris explained.

His Dad rushed him to Birmingham hospital, where he was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition that meant he would lose 90% of his sight.

Blind Albion Foundation coach Chris Winston

“I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest. I was in the darkest place I’ve ever been.”

Chris said his confidence was severely knocked and in a strange way he felt like he had let people down. As a promising footballer, Chris had dreamt of playing semi-professionally – but had to give up on that dream as well as being unable to carry on with his job.

A dedicated Baggies fan, Chris got in touch with the Albion Foundation, who offered him an opportunity to volunteer with their disability programme. Now employed by the Albion Foundation and coaching children with different disabilities in different schools, Chris has built his confidence back up and is keen to carry on making a difference to others,

“With the help of my friends, family and the Foundation, I managed to find my feet. I started playing visually impaired football and I want to represent England.”

He’s come down here and he’s worked hard and the Albion Foundation have helped him along the way. It’s what the Albion Foundation is all about.”
Chris Brunt, West Bromwich Albion and Northern Ireland International

“This offered me a pathway back into work and now it’s got to the stage where I’ve been offered a paid contract, which is really good for me because everything’s starting to look back up in my life. I’m a massive West Brom fan and I’ve got the dream job working for the Albion Foundation.”

Chris, whose story was told as part of the celebrations to mark The Albion Foundation’s 25th anniversary, also has an inspirational message for other young people facing challenges.

Chris Brunt and other West Brom players at a Foundation day

“Don't give up. There's always a way out and people around to help you out. Keep smiling.”

Albion defender and Northern Ireland international Chris Brunt also commented on Chris’s inspirational story, saying “He’s come down here and he’s worked hard and the Albion Foundation have helped him along the way. It’s what the Albion Foundation is all about.”