Royal Blind School appeal: Teenager has learnt a host of skills at charity cafe

Damon Horne revels in his role working in the school's cafe.
Damon Horne revels in his role working in the school's cafe.
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Teenager Damon Horne is used to facing challenges.

The 17-year-old from Penicuik was never expected to walk or talk after being diagnosed with cerebral palsy soon after birth.

Thanks to the care of the Royal Blind School, however, he is now looking forward to starting a career – and has already shown his business skills helping run a fundraising cafe at the school.

The pupil is backing the Evening News Christmas Appeal, which has been launched this month to raise funds for Royal Blind – the charity that runs Damon’s school.

Donations will go towards funding vital equipment for the charity’s services, which also include the Scottish Braille Press and the Braeside House care home.

Damon suffers from learning difficulties and impaired vision as part of his disability. He cannot see anything more than ten metres away.

Mother June Horne said they had not known the extent of Damon’s condition until three months after his birth.

She said: “He was born seven weeks premature. On the morning of his Christening in July of that year, we woke up to find him blue and rigid.

“He preceded to have a series of really, really violent seizures. We took him to hospital. They didn’t know at that stage whether it was pre-cot death.

“They ended up using a scan like you would when you’re pregnant and he had massive white matter damage to his brain. The diagnosis was that he may never walk or talk, at that time. It was just such a 
terrible shock.”

Damon’s parents enrolled him at the Royal Blind School’s nursery where a personal physiotherapist and an occupational therapist helped his progress.

Within six months, he had started walking for the first time, and, since then, he has continued to progress.

Damon has spent the past two years working shifts at the school’s cafe – the same room that once housed the nursery.

The student said: “I sometimes get a wee bit confused with certain coins, so it’s actually let me learn how to work with them. I did have a wee shot at the cash register as well, which was quite good.”

Damon has his heart set on being a music DJ rather than following in the footsteps of grandfather Norman Wilson, who was a photographer for the Scotsman publications, including the Evening News.

How to donate

THE Royal Blind has been helping people with visual impairments for more than 200 years – and now you have the chance to help.

The Evening News has joined with Royal Blind for our 2012 Christmas Appeal and we are calling on all our readers to donate whatever they can and make a real difference to the lives of blind and visually-impaired people from across the country.

The money will be used to help purchase vital equipment including everything from talking microwaves and high-sided plates, which help provide blind people with a greater degree of confidence in preparing and serve their own meals, to moving and handling equipment which gives them greater freedom in performing tasks.

There are many ways to donate to the charity.

To donate by mobile phone, simply text XMAS10 to 70070 to give £10 to the appeal.

For online donations go to and visit the Support Us section of the website.

To donate by mail, make cheques payable to ROYAL BLIND and send to Royal Blind, PO Box 500, Gillespie Crescent, Edinburgh, EH10 4HZ.

Please do not send cash.

What your money can buy

Moving and handling equipment £10,000

Pressure-relieving chairs £2500

Talking microwave £225

Talking kitchen scales £47

Ultra-light, vibrating cane £29

Adapted dinner plate with high sides £10