Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Billy Baxter

As a Rehabilitation Training Liaison Officer for Blind Veterans UK, 48 year old Billy Baxter is an inspiration to our new members when they visit our Llandudno rehabilitation, care and training centre. His extrovert personality and positive attitude is infectious. He is also the town Cior for Llandudno.

But as Billy says, he would not be alive today if it were not for the emotional strength of his wife Karen and the support of Blind Veterans UK.

When Billy Baxter, a former Staff Sergeant in the British Army, lost his sight in 1997 from a virus, he became extremely bitter and depressed.

Billy said: "I was ready to commit suicide, I felt useless and angry and I didn't want to put Karen and the kids through any more misery. If it hadn't been for Karen and Blind Veterans UK I would not have the great life I have now".

Shortly before Billy was discharged from the Army, Karen found out about Blind Veterans UK, but Billy refused to apply for membership, being too proud to admit he needed help. So Karen enquired on his behalf and managed to persuade Billy to go on an introductory stay with the organisation.

Karen said: "When Billy lost his sight he was very, very angry. Everything me and the kids did he would snap at us for. I had had enough and was ready to pack my bags and leave him. But when he came back from Blind Veterans UK's training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton he was the real Billy again. It was such a relief and we are just so grateful."

Billy said: "When I arrived at the centre and met the staff and other members of Blind Veterans UK I realised I wasn't alone. That changed everything for me."

Karen adds: "I never thought that Billy would be able to work again, so when he got the job at Blind Veterans UK's Llandudno centre I couldn't believe it.  It is so fantastic, we are so happy now."

Friday, 15 May 2015

John Barnes

John Charles Bryan Barnes MBE(born 7 November 1963) is a Jamaican-born English former footballer and manager, who currently works as a commentator and pundit for ESPN[2]and SuperSport.
During his playing career, Barnes had successful periods at Watford and Liverpool in the 1980s and 1990s, winning the First Division twice, the FA Cup twice, and playing for England 79 times (at the time, a record for a blackplayer). After a period at Newcastle United, he ended his playing career at Charlton Athletic in 1999.
After retiring as a player, Barnes had a brief stint as head coach of Celtic in 1999–2000, working alongside Kenny Dalglish. He took over as manager of the Jamaica national team in 2008, but resigned six months later to become manager at Tranmere Rovers. He was sacked by Tranmere in 2009, after a series of poor results that saw the club make one its poorest starts to a season in its history.
An Anfield legend, Barnes was voted by Liverpool fans at number five in their 2006 poll of 100 Players who shook the Kop. A year later in 2007, FourFourTwomagazine acclaimed Barnes as the best Liverpool player of all time.
Barnes featured on the song "World in Motion" by New Order, performing a rap towards the end of the song, which was released ahead of England's 1990 FIFA World Cup campaign.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Bill Shankly

William "Bill" Shankly OBE (2 September 1913 – 29 September 1981) was a Scottish footballer and manager who is best known for his time as manager of Liverpool.
Shankly came from a small Scottish mining community as one of five brothers who played football professionally. He played as a ball winning right half and was capped twelve times for Scotland, including seven wartime internationals. He spent one season at Carlisle United before spending the rest of his career at Preston North End, with whom he won the FA Cup in 1938. His playing career was interrupted by his service in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He became a manager after he retired from playing in 1949, returning to Carlisle United. He later managed Grimsby TownWorkington[1][2] and Huddersfield Townbefore moving to become Liverpool manager in December 1959.
Shankly took charge of Liverpool when they were in the Second Division and rebuilt the team into a major force in English and European football. He led Liverpool to the Second Division Championship to gain promotion to the top-flight First Division in 1962, before going on to win three First Division Championships, two FA Cups, four Charity Shields and one UEFA Cup. Shankly announced his surprise retirement from football a few weeks after Liverpool won the 1974 FA Cup Final, having managed the club for fifteen years, and was succeeded by his long-time assistant Bob Paisley. He died seven years later at the age of 68

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho joined Liverpool in January 2013 from Inter Milan.
His talent was evident from an early age, with comparisons being made in his homeland to several of Brazil's modern stars - including Kaka and Ronaldinho - due to the attacking midfielder's deft touch and creativity.
He began his career at one of Rio de Janeiro's biggest clubs, Vasco da Gama.
Alerted to his potential at 16 years old, Europe's heavyweight clubs battled for his signature and it was Italian giants Inter Milan who won the race to conclude a transfer worth around €4million in 2008.
Due to Italian rules, Coutinho was ineligible for his new club until his 18th birthday so remained at Vasco to continue his education. In 2009, he helped Brazil's U17 side claim South American spoils, scoring in the final against Argentina.
Coutinho appeared for Vasco on 43 occasions in total, netting five goals, before his transfer to Inter - then managed by former Reds boss Rafa Benitez - was completed in the summer of 2010.
"He is a young player with lots of quality. He can be the future of the club and we expect him to do very well for us," said Benitez when the Brazilian arrived at the San Siro.
Capable of playing in any forward position, Coutinho was regularly used in a wide role by I Nerazzurri - making his debut in the Uefa Super Cup and racking up 20 games and a single goal in 2010-11.

The Brazilian enjoyed further international success in 2011, featuring in all seven matches and finding the target three times as the U20 side lifted the U20 World Cup in Colombia.
Injuries would hamper the midfielder's progress into the Inter first team, with just eight appearances the following season before the Italians loaned Coutinho to Spanish outfit Espanyol for the second half of 2011-12.
There he thrived - under the stewardship of Mauricio Pochettino, the diminutive attacker played consistently and struck five goals before returning to Inter with a first-team spot in his sights.
During 2012-13, Coutinho was largely used in the Europa League by boss Andrea Stramaccioni, striking twice as the Italians qualified for the knockout stages.
Then after weeks of speculation regarding his future, the 21-year-old completed a move to Anfield in January 2013 as Brendan Rodgers further honed his Liverpool forward options.
Coutinho was handed a first appearance for the club as a substitute during the home defeat to West Brom on February 11, then found the target on his full Liverpool debut six days later with a calm finish against Swansea.
The diminutive playmaker's sublime passing range and vision ensured he became an instantaneous favourite among Kopites, who have regularly been stunned by the creativity of the No.10.
In 2013-14, the Brazilian evolved into an all-action midfielder, equally comfortable pressing hard to win possession, and his performances were a central tenet of the Reds' run to a second-place finish.
While Liverpool endured a testing start to the 2014-15 campaign, Coutinho's influence over the side grew, especially after Rodgers handed the playmaker a more free, attacking role in a revamped 3-4-3 formation.
Then, on February 3, 2015, Coutinho reaffirmed his commitment to the cause by signing a new long-term contract at the club.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

British Soldier

Painted in 2009

Gus Poyet

Painted in 2010
Gustavo Augusto "Gus" Poyet Domínguez (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpoʝet]; born 15 November 1967) is a Uruguayan former footballer and manager.
Poyet played as a midfielder and began his career with short spells at Grenobleand River Plate. He then spent seven years at Real Zaragoza, with whom he won the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. In 1997, Poyet moved to Chelsea on a free transfer and helped the club win the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. In 2001 he moved to Tottenham Hotspur, where he saw out the remainder of his career. He was also part of the Uruguay side which won the 1995 Copa América.
After his playing career ended, Poyet moved into coaching. He served as assistant manager to Dennis Wise at Swindon Town and Leeds United, and Juande Ramos at Tottenham Hotspur. In November 2009, Poyet was appointed manager of Brighton & Hove Albion and in his first full season led the club to promotion as League One Champions, for which he was named League One Manager of the Year by the LMA. In October 2013 he was hired by Premier League team Sunderland and guided them to the League Cup Final in his first season, but was sacked in March 2015 after a poor run of results.