Politics have given a blind South Tyneside dad a new thirst for life.
Despite his visual impairment, nothing stops Ronnie Miller, who has recently been made secretary of Labour’s Hebburn South branch.
As part of his role he records the minutes of the party’s meetings and also makes a monthly circular newsletter which is emailed or hand delivered to constituents.
The 58-year-old, who lives with his wife Linda in Hexham Avenue in Hebburn, uses a number of technological gadgets to assist him.
Mr Miller, says his life has been transformed by his new role and has great gratitude for the ward’s councillors Wilf Flynn and John McCabe, who got him involved with the party.
He said: “I have a lot to prove, I want to prove to myself I can do this and I also want to prove to Councillors Flynn and McCabe that I am up to this job.
“I want to prove to myself, and to the councillors, that I can do this.”Ronnie Miller
“This his given me a new look on life, I have to do things differently, and it takes me a lot longer, but I get there in the end.
“It’s given me something to focus on, it’s made me feel part of something and now I have aims of perhaps one day even becoming a councillor myself.”
The dad-of-two, a former shipwright at Swan Hunters, went blind 15 years ago.
At the age of 25 he was diagnosed with diabetes and by 2002 was spending four hours a day, four times a week, hooked up to a dialysis machine to keep him alive.
On July 4 2007, the father-of-two underwent a kidney and pancreas transplant – this meant he was no longer a diabetic.
He said: “I had no life up until the transplant. I spent so long attached to that machine – but now, health-wise, I am doing well.
Mr Miller is unable to have a guide dog.
He said: “I get about by using my stick, which vibrates, and I have a device which hangs round my neck, like a satnav, which tells me where to go.
“I depend on technology quite a lot, but it’s so expensive, so I am very grateful to the council and Sight Services for the grants they’ve been able to assist me with.”
Coun Flynn says Mr Miller’s appointment has changed the way many of the party’s members think.
He said: “We take a lot of things for granted. But Ronnie’s arrival has made people think, we now make sure members introduce themselves now before the meeting, so he knows who is speaking.
“Everyone is very impressed with the circulars he’s producing.”
Coun McCabe added: “Ronnie is the type of person the Labour party needs, he’s involved for all of the right reasons.
“While he is new to this role, he’s outperforming many of the other branch secretaries.”