Former truck driver George finds a way to remain in the cab after sight loss.

People can be surprised to learn of George Nevill’s occupation as a truck driver trainer, given his level of vision—and the necessity of sight for driving.

While George isn’t behind the wheel driving trucks anymore, he works in a job doing the next best thing. Now, he sits in the passenger’s seat and uses his years of driving experience to train future drivers for LW Bonney and Sons. He works seasonally and is about to train drivers for the fifth dairy farm season which begins in September.

The Hamilton resident teaches drivers how to be safe on the road, coaching on handling techniques as well as providing guidance on loading. He makes the most of his remaining vision by using adaptive tools and technology, as well as using other senses, such as hearing, to process how the truck is handling.

“My vision loss happened overnight”

Before his vision deteriorated, George had been a driver for LW Bonney and Sons for 12 years. He was on a job in Blenheim when he had a stroke that affected his optic nerve.

There were no symptoms to suggest a stroke had happened and he woke up with hazy vision in his left eye. He went to get it checked out but nothing was picked up and he continued working, relying on his right eye.

“By night fall, I was unloading the trailer and I couldn’t see the end of it. I had had another stroke, in my right eye this time.

“For a while, I was a dithering mess. I had lost my profession, my passion—I had been a truck driver for the past 30 years. I went into a state of depression.”

There is a way through

When George joined the Blind Foundation, what helped him was the peer-to-peer support group—Hamilton Blind and Vision Impaired Social Group.

He is now the president of the group.

Photograph caption: George Nevill pictured in front of LW Bonney and Sons trucks.

“My whole attitude changed. I met people who were positive and were getting on with life, and I was just amazed at what people could do.”

He also got a call from his former employer offering him a position as a trainer.

“When my eyes went crook, I thought that was it, that would be the end of my employment. But Calven Bonney himself gave me a call—he told me it was a job that I knew so well, I could do it with my eyes closed anyway.”

The Blind Foundation’s employment and adaptive technology services helped set George up with the tools he needed to make the most of his remaining vision. The team assessed what equipment he needed such as magnification programmes and devices, and a hand held voice recorder for note taking.

Would you like to find out about a Blind Foundation social group in your area, or support finding tools to help you with your career? Contact us by calling 0800 24 33 33 or email generalenquiries@blindfoundation.org.nz