Photo of me aged 10, starting a band with my brother Karl (me on guitar and Karl singing into a bottle)

Shane Byrne (Realt nua)

Robert Forde is an amazing young man who agreed to come and talk to a group I was teaching last year. The group were on a substance stabilization programme and many of them had spent time in prison and felt that they had messed up and there was no hope for them.

He spoke about his experience of losing his sight and all the ups and downs that he went through. He was engaging and funny and the group really liked him and definitely benefited from his motivational speech.

The subjects that I was teaching were QQI level 3 Challenging discrimination and QQI level 3 Community Participation. Every student took away something positive from the session and I would highly recommend him as an inspirational speaker for any group.

The thing that really struck me was what an ordinary bloke he was, he was really sound and had a gas sense of humour. It made me think twice about labelling people with disabilities and it was great being able to ask him any question we wanted.

Photo of me aged 16, collecting my student achievement award in the CBS

Sharon Lyons (National Council for the Blind)

Robbie Forde comes across as a practical, humble, down to earth, friendly guy, with a lot of love and respect for his friends and family. Then you hear about the shocking ordeal that he went through, and then went through again, and again! And he is still that practical, humble, down to earth, friendly guy. But then also he brings with him a hope that, even when faced with the worse of barriers in life, it is not only possible to get through them all with sanity intact, but also to keep smiling and joking along the way.

Three days after my operation

Lisa Keogh (Realt Nua)

Ah Robbie was as sound as a pound, a great laugh and an ordinary fella, he said we all get dealt a deck of cards and it depends on how we play them. He made me realise that if you put your mind to doing something that you can do it even if things don’t go according to plan. I really enjoyed the talk and everyone in the class did too.

Finishing a day of skiing standing with the instructor on a mountain in Austria

Paddy McKenna (Realt Nua)

The day Robbie came, I was in a bad headspace and was feeling frustrated with my life. But the minute he started telling his story I forgot about how I was feeling and it made me realise that if he could overcome his problems and succeed so could I. He really inspired me and I thank him for that. Since then I have decided to go to college myself and make something of my life.