A man with a lasting impression

One Opinion

By Frances Jean, Connect Contributor

mugshotfrancesjeanOver many years we meet outstanding people; people who make a difference in the lives of others and leave a lasting impression on your memory.

Such a man was David Clark. A young father and husband, he went blind in his late twenties of a very rare disease. He was a partner in an accounting firm in the city of London, England. Instead of feeling sorry for himself and accepting his disability, David embarked on a whole new career.

St. Dunstan’s was an organization begun by Sir Arthur Pearson after World War I to train servicemen who had become blind. David had been in the British National Service and it was during this time that his sight problems began.

He became a St. Dunstaner in 1965 and they provided training to learn life skills necessary for a blind person to cope. This included learning to read Braille, which incidentally was invented by a Frenchman in 1829.

David then went to Birmingham University to train as a teacher for blind children. He returned to his family in Sevenoaks, Kent and taught at the School for the Blind that had been opened by Princess Margaret in 1955. He had a class of twelve year olds and also taught English for 19 years.

Many of the children were boarders and he and his family were able to have them out for weekends, offer experiences on days out that sighted children would take for granted and he arranged holidays in the summer to take the boys to sighted childrens’ camps in the Lake District. He had a guide dog so he was able to be independent, walking to school which was within walking distance of home.

When David resigned from the Blind School he was asked to tutor children in a local Prep school who had difficulties learning or personal problems. By this time he had a second dog who would take him through Knole Park to school.

This he did on a voluntary basis for 20 years. When he died last year, many of these students told of how their life had been enriched by the encouragement, wisdom and advice of Mr. Clark.

David’s knowledge of history, people and places is unequalled by anyone else I have ever met. He had a remarkable memory and must have had an extraordinary brain. He told me once that a plus side of going blind was that he had been forced to give up accountancy and had chosen teaching and had been able to experience so much more in life than he would have otherwise. He loved teaching.

The children that he influenced in life; the enjoyment he gained from reading and teaching; and the knowledge he imparted to many, have insured he will not soon be forgotten.

The life of David Clark shows just how adversity can be turned into achievement. It also tells us that in our lives we are influencing others, in small ways perhaps, but we do have an influence, and we need to ensure it is for the betterment of others.

David Clark is an example of this.

‘One Opinion’ is a Connect Weekly exclusive op-ed article by Fort McMurray matriarch and local author Frances Jean.

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