Former Banbury writer helps pen Blind Dave’s memoirs

Former Banbury resident Sophie Parkes-Neild has helped write the story of 'Blind Dave' Dave Heeley. NNL-161202-114953001
Former Banbury resident Sophie Parkes-Neild has helped write the story of 'Blind Dave' Dave Heeley. NNL-161202-114953001

A former Banbury resident has written an autobiography about the motivational speaker David Heeley.

Sophie Parkes-Nield worked with Mr Heeley, nicknamed Blind Dave, after the father-of-three’s life was turned upside down when he developed Retinitas Pigmentosa and went blind.

From Light to Dark is the incredible story of the 58-year-old who despite his condition, has gone on to complete 13 London Marathons, was an Olympic torchbearer in 2012 and is currently the only blind man to run seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.

The book will be released next Thursday, February 18 and is being launched at Waterstones in Birmingham.

Mrs Parkes-Nield is a former Banbury School student and now lives in Manchester. She studied English language and literature at the University of Manchester and also wrote a biography on Eliza Carthy MBE.

She said: “My father got to know Dave back in 2011 after he came along to support one of his challenges cycling around all the football grounds in the country.

“Dave had started writing his memoirs but was not getting the chance to give it any structure. My dad put me in touch with him and we have become really good friends - it was fantastic from start to finish.”

The book explores the life of Mr Heeley, from West Bromwich, who had aspirations to be in the army before the condition prevented him from fulfilling his ambitions.

Now a motivational speaker, he has spoken at venues across the country including football clubs, disability groups, radio stations and Rotary clubs and WIs.

Mrs Parkes-Nield said the whole process of writing the book took about three years with interviews with family and friends of Mr Heeley.

She said: “I met his family and his wife and they were all lovely and he has a real loyal bunch of supporters. He was a brilliant storyteller and had so much good stuff to say.

“Speaking to him has meant I will never look at life in the same way, it makes you feel really grateful for what you have got. Dave had county records in running and wanted to be in the army, and that was all taken away from him.

“If anyone ever gets the chance to meet and speak with Dave they really should. He is a really normal person.”

Hardback copies of the book are priced at £16.99.