Thornton encourages students to work hard to reach their dreams and we are always delighted to welcome guests who have overcome adversity to do just that.
James King, the founder of Oliver James Garden Rooms, visited Thornton recently to tell his inspirational story to a packed school assembly. A builder since leaving school, James is a builder with a difference. Severely sight impaired with only 10% vision, James has a condition called retinitis pigmentosa with no peripheral vision at all. He began losing his sight in his early twenties, but chose to ignore it.
After finally accepting his condition, James was forced to ‘retire’ from being a hands-on builder and developed his own ‘garden rooms’ business through sheer determination and by making the most of what he has rather than concentrating on what he has not.
James’ overriding message for the girls was to have self-belief when life presents tough challenges. Find inner-strength and determination to succeed when life choices appear to be limited and not to allow circumstances to stifle dreams, aspirations and ambition.
In 2013 James’ can-do and will-do outlook was recognised when he won the ‘Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs’, organised by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of EasyJet.
Although delighted to have won the award, James is not keen on being described as a ‘disabled entrepreneur’.
"I think of myself as a para-entrepreneur - different rather than disabled. When you're in London, the chap standing on the tallest column in Trafalgar Square has got one arm and one eye but we don't ever think of Lord Nelson as being disabled, he's just Lord Nelson."