Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Derek Heyes, Outlaws Fan in the UK

Sarah Snyder with Derek Heyes, Outlaws fan in the UK.
Former Outlaw Sarah Snyder says she wishes all the players could meet Derek Heyes.  "He's such an inspiration."    But meeting this Outlaws fan in person will involve serious travel - he resides in the United Kingdom.

Derek says “I have always been a sports fanatic, Manchester United being one of my greatest loves, but I never realized women played football (we call it American football over here) until stumbling across the Outlaws web site by accident several years ago."   His decision to know more about American football was consistent with his love his love of sports in general.  And his encyclopedic knowledge which, in 1981, helped him win the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)  “brain of sport” quiz, a national quiz broadcast throughout the UK on the BBC.   More recently, he has appeared on several TV quizzes including “mastermind”.

Seeking to learn more about American football and the role of women in this sport he used his computer to communicate with Lily Messina and several other Outlaws, establishing "firm friendships with MaryLou Spence and a number of former and current players including Laura Eddy, Jill Elliott, Hollie Rhodes, Sarah Snyder, Lorin Smith  and Veronica Narvaez."    MaryLou and Sarah have visited Derek in England.  Sarah says "he knew about everything and could talk – politics, soccer, football, American football including way back when history,  didn’t really matter."  
Derek was born in a village called Blackrod in the north-west of England on Jan. 20 1950.   His father was a coal-miner and mother worked in a local cotton factory weaving towels.

At the age of six he lost his sight following an accident.   "The only regrets I have had about being blind are not having the chance to play for Manchester United!   And not being able to watch animals in their natural habitat."  

From the age of eight until the age of  nineteen he attended special schools where all the children were visually impaired.  In 1969 he went to Nottingham university to study history and economics, graduating with honors in 1972.  

After taking a one year teaching course at Manchester University, he taught history, economics, and business studies in high school and was also a tutor and mentor where he kept abreast of the progress of around 20 students through weekly appointments.   Following  retirement from formal teaching last year, he still keeps in touch with the school and gives regular talks in morning assemblies on topics such as “coping with blindness” and guide dogs for the blind.

Derek got married in 1987.  His wife [Jayne] died from lung cancer in 1998.  His eighteen-year-old daughter, Sarah lives with him along with her boyfriend and a small menagerie of pets - I'll update the pet list for a future posting.   

This biographical background is offered with the purpose of piquing your interest in this remarkable Outlaws fan.  In following postings we'll get some of Derek's observations about the Outlaws and American football. 

Note: you can communicate with Derek at his email address:  derek@derek-red.karoo.co.uk

To whet your appetite to learn more - Derek says "The big advantage of being blind is..." (more later).

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