A Halifax man has had to battle with both redundancy and losing his eyesight, but has turned adversity into opportunity by starting his own business.
48-year old Paul Hill had worked for the same company for 10 years in digital marketing but lost his job not long after he lost his eyesight due to a degenerative eye condition, known as Myopic Macular Degeneration.
He says he didn’t fancy his chances on the job market as a newly blind person, “I couldn’t read properly or drive,” he says. Nonetheless, the father of two had continued with working, getting friends to give him lifts and increasing text size on his computer screen before his redundancy.
Paul had even got to the stage of arranging a guide dog when his condition improved and he started to see again, baffling the medical profession.
After his redundancy, he began to get back into filming and made a couple of films with some friends. As time progressed, he realised he could do more. And so his video production company, ManShed, was born, named after the sacred and elusive man-cave: “Mine is a big chalet, all insulated with whiteboards,” he laughs.
ManShed offers, simply, “commercial films with high production values and a creative cinematic look.” Paul had clients who remembered him from his old job and One of the first jobs he did was for Canon UK. “I didn’t really know what I was doing,” he laughs, “but they loved it. and shared it.” Now his clients range from he works on projects for top corporates like Triumph International and John Smedley to celebrity weddings and Cancer Research UK. He’s even filmed at London Fashion Week.
Being made redundant can be a real shock for someone like Paul, who describes himself as someone who “proper working man”. “loves work,” but, nonetheless, he jumped into his new endeavour with gusto, especially after being placed on the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme for advice and guidance from the West Yorkshire Enterprise Agency.
His NEA mentor was always on hand questions or to talk things through, he says, and he believes the scheme is great for people who lack direction or need guidance.
Paul’s eyesight continues to remain good and he has started to expand into remote aerial film with his new business partner. Losing his sight, then dealing with redundancy, was a bit of a wakeup call for Paul, he says, “You do or die,” he laughs.” His experience with guide dogs has led him to become a registered volunteer and he has even made a film for them with Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls: “It’s very important for me to give something back, and anyway I always come away from their events smiling.”