Harlow children inspired to face challenges head by former teacher who lost his sight

HARLOW children were inspired to face challenges head-on by a former teacher who lost his sight to a brain tumour.

James Shone had been a teacher for 16 years when, in 2012, he was preparing to take on his first headship.

During a routine eye check as part of his medical assessment, it was discovered he had a large brain tumour.

After 27 hours of brain surgery and 80 days in hospital unable to eat, drink or talk, the father-of-four was left with no sight in one eye and only ten per cent vision in the other.

He told pupils at Cooks Spinney Primary Academy in Harlow: “In 2012, I had it all; everything was as good as it could be. In 2013, I found myself with no job, no house and no sight.

“We have good bits and challenging bits of life. That is life. When the bad bits come, do they break us or make us?”

The motivational speaker – behind charity I Can & I Am with a mission to inspire confidence – said three rules to follow in hard times should be to look up, look forward and think about other people.

He said: “Keep looking forward because that is where the hopes and possibilities and opportunities are. They are in front of us; do not look back. The past we can learn from; it is a great teacher, but it is not a great master. Just think ‘can I learn from it’ and keep moving forward.

“Sometimes you might wake in a right grump. Do things for other people; that’s a brilliant thing and is where you find your purpose in life.

“The alternative option is to look down, look back and look in.”

The guest – who still has 50 per cent of his brain tumour – told pupils how he left hospital unable to walk, but was able to row the whole length of the River Thames two years ago with a positive mindset.

He said: “We are the CEOs of our own lives. Our attitude says ‘I can’ or ‘I can’t’.

“One of the most valuable things you can do is to be thankful for what you do have and what you can do.”

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