A TEENAGE cricketer from Southwick who survived a rare form of eye cancer has been selected for the Blind Cricket World Cup.
James Millard is joining the 17-strong squad of visually impaired cricketers for a tour of South Africa later this month.
The 19-year-old Sussex Sharks player secured backing from Vision Express ahead of the international tournament, which will earn him his first England cap.
A keen sportsman and student furniture-maker, he will travel to Cape Town for the first match against Sri Lanka on November 27.
James, known in the squad as Jimmy, is blind in one eye, with severely reduced sight in the other.
He was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma when he was six weeks old and underwent almost two years of treatment, including cryotherapy and chemotherapy, to save his sight. However, James lost vision in his right eye and now suffers with nystagmus and photosensitivity in his left eye.
Nevertheless, he keeps active and has played cricket since 2004, as well as being a regular on the football pitch, ski slopes and in the swimming pool.
Ahead of his South African tour, James had his eyes tested at Vision Express Brighton, where he received sports goggles and sunglasses, both made with high-strength tinted lenses to help him perform to his best on the pitch.
James explained: “Due to the problems in my left eye, any glasses or sports goggles I wear need to incorporate a special tinted lens, which is very expensive.
“My heartfelt gratitude goes to Vision Express for their backing as I embark on such an important competition in my sporting career.”
Vision Express supports a number of families affected by retinoblastoma, through the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT), the retailer’s nominated charity. The company has partnered with CHECT since 2010 and last year raised £105,000 for the trust.
Omar Hassan, head of professional services at Vision Express, said: “Retinoblastoma, if caught early, can be treated and managed but, as in James’ case, the resulting side effects into adulthood can be costly.
“It’s humbling to hear James’ story and see how well he is doing as both a young man and a national sporting ambassador.
“His determination will no doubt spur on our own team of fundraisers. This year, all of our stores and departments are tasked with raising £1,000 each for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.”