Blinded soldier prepares for first Sheffield photo exhibition

Chris Nowell with one of the photographs he will be displaying at Art in the Gardens.
Chris Nowell with one of the photographs he will be displaying at Art in the Gardens.

A FORMER soldier who turned to photography after losing his sight while serving in Afghanistan is set to exhibit his work for the first time in Sheffield.

Ex-military man Chris Nowell, aged 28, is one of hundreds of artists showcasing their talents at the annual Art in the Gardens event at the city’s Botanical Gardens this weekend.

Chris, from Dronfield, served in the King’s Royal Hussars regiment for eight years and travelled to Northern Ireland, Canada and Iraq with the Army.

However, it was in September 2007, while he was out in Afghanistan, that his life changed forever.

During a small mortar attack on his base, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the wall behind him and fractured his skull.

Chris was flown to hospital in Birmingham and woke up two weeks later, having suffered brain damage with memory and sight loss.

The father-of-one received support from St Dunstan’s, the charity for blind and partially sighted ex-service people, which is where he first discovered his love of photography.

Chris said: “When I was at St Dunstan’s I got help with reading, writing and IT from a man called Dave. It turned out he was a professional photographer and I got into it through him.”

The amateur snapper showed such talent that he began devoting more and more time to honing his skills.

Chris now takes shots of anything and everything, but it is football photography which he enjoys most

The Sheffield Wednesday fan is now a volunteer photographer at Sheffield FC, who play their home games in his native Dronfield.

His sport photography will make up part of his Art in the Gardens exhibit, which will be on display on Saturday and Sunday.

Chris said: “I do match photos. I just look for the ball - it’s simple really. It helps if you understand football. You’ve got to be ready for big incidents - goals, sendings-off - I find it quite exciting.

“I didn’t think my photos were any good, but my family thought they were good and I should give it a shot.

“I’ve never sold any pieces of work, I just do it for the love of it really.

“This will be the first time I have exhibited anything and I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m going to be there all day on the Sunday with my work.”

The Art in the Gardens show will be open from 10.30am to 5.30pm tomorrow and Sunday.

Admission for adults is £6 and accompanied children aged under 16 can enter for free.