Michael was brought up in Kilwinning, Ayrshire on the South West Coast of Scotland, in the county of Ayrshire. He attended two mainstream schools - St. Luke's and St. Michael's. When Michael was about four years old, his mother took him into a shop to buy some wool, to knit him a jumper. The elderly shop assistant screamed at his mum: "Oh, look at that boy's eyes, look at that boy's eyes... you better get him to an optician!"
It turned out that Michael was shortsighted and needed glasses. Yet, despite numerous appointments with opticians over the subsequent years, it was not spotted that Michael was suffering from a rare genetic condition known as Stickler's syndrome.
Michael realised that he had lost his sight fully in his left eye when he was about seven, but he was too scared to tell his parents. Eventually a routine optician's appointment revealed the secret but despite an operation, the retina had completely detached and Michael was blind in his left eye. It was only due to Michael's mother insistence and several referrals that doctors discovered that the retina was detaching in his right eye as well. Without this diagnosis, he would probably have gone blind within a year. An operation saved his sight.
"Insight Radio helps to highlight issues and demonstrates to other blind and partially sighted people that there is a station that will listen and hopefully help to change the system."
When Michael was fifteen, his retina started detaching again and a more serious operation to reattach the retina followed, which took four hours. However, when Michael was 23, he awoke from another operation to remove a cataract and discovered that his eye had haemorrhaged. He was left totally blind. His sighted days were over.
He was referred to an RNIB rehabilitation centre, where he learned technology that would allow him to become more independent. He was taught how to touch type and learned the screen reader JAWS, which allowed him to use a computer again.
When Michael was sighted he was never out of work, including stints as a Quality Controller during a work placement year in Denmark and as a Research Associate with Proctor and Gamble. However, as a blind man, it took him four years to get his first job as a researcher for the BBC Radio news programme Good Morning Scotland. After his 4 month placement, he was unemployed again for a further year and a half, until Insight Radio was established. Had it not been for this project, Michael would probably still be at home and as he says, "on the scrapheap."
The job at Insight Radio has given Michael a sense of purpose again and greatly improved his confidence.
He says "I have interviewed a wide variety of people including politicians, celebrities and eminent eye surgeons. But the people I want to make a difference to most are the ordinary blind and partially sighted people who face challenges everyday in getting the latest eye treatment, job opportunities or facing discrimination. Insight Radio helps to highlight these issues and demonstrates to other blind and partially sighted people that there is a station that will listen and hopefully help to change the system."
"Working for Insight Radio has increased my confidence and skills. It's great to be working for a radio station that reduces isolation and helps to create a sense of community for blind and partially sighted people."