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Summer job was spot on for political teen

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By Newsdesk
Annan and Eskdale
Summer job was spot on for political teen

AN AMBITIOUS Annan teenager, who has been registered blind for most of his life, is taking the first steps towards what he hopes will be a political career.

Lewis Shaw, 19, carried out work experience over the summer with Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell and his father, Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell.

He shadowed the two politicians both on parliamentary and constituency duties, gaining first-hand experience of their work.

It has been an ideal grounding for Lewis, as he this month begins a degree course in politics at Stirling University.

Diagnosed as an infant with the sight loss condition Leber’s Amaurosis, the perceptive teenager has never let his disability curb his determination to succeed. The former Annan Academy pupil, who has also attended the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh, is an accomplished user of braille – a raised dots system which people with sight loss read through their finger tips. He is a skilled writer too, having won a $1000 prize in an international competition two years ago for his essay on the importance of braille.

Lewis explained he was partly inspired to follow a career in politics by David Blunkett, now Baron Blunkett, the blind-from-birth Labour MP who held three senior Cabinet posts during 28 years in the House of Commons. He said: “Although I do not share all his political views, I really admire David Blunkett because he has achieved such a lot and shown other blind people that the sky’s the limit as far as ambition goes.

“I was drawn to the Conservatives when I was still at school during the period of the independence referendum, as I liked the way David and Oliver were so active locally campaigning for the Union. Labour were also doing well fighting to keep the UK together, but I agreed more with the Conservatives on wider issues and policies.”

Lewis added that he was enjoying his time with the Mundells, and his experience so far had not put him off a career in politics. He said: “It may be a thankless task at times, but it is a job where you can help other people. In the long term I want to stand for election and, who knows, I might get the chance to be a cabinet minister or even PM?”

Both Oliver and David praised their protege. Oliver, who arranged the work placement, said: “Lewis is very astute and is already a positive role model to others by showing that sight loss should not be an obstacle to fulfilling challenging ambitions. “On the surgery tour he learned that grass roots issues such as roads, buses and education are just as important in our communities as the big national issues.” Meanwhile, David added: “He may only be 19 but it is clear that Lewis has built an in-depth understanding and knowledge of politics. “He’s a very determined and able young man and I wish him well with his studies and hope his time with us helps him further his career ambitions.”


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