To lose the sight of one’s eyes – To lose it gradually year after year and to know that after a little while darkness would come – total darkness – for ever. To face the future, to learn what one could while sight was still there – to refuse to give in – to keep cheerful and never complain – to fight despair and to conquer, to have a happy smile for everyone. To have gone through the valley of desolation and come up bravely on the other side. To have created sunshine out of darkness – in short to have conquered one’s fate if that is really to live – then Tom Burrows has lived life to the full.
I have found him, in the days of oil lamps, when totally blind, filling the lamps in the Church and knowing exactly how much they needed. He was so familiar with it all that he would step into the pew and reach up for the lamp without making a single mistake or letting fall a drop of oil.
He plays the tubular bells by ear and the hymn tunes he rings after Evensong on Sunday evenings are a delight to everyone. It makes a perfect finish to the Sabbath day.
A visit to his workshop on Beacon Hill finds him squatting comfortably on the floor weaving baskets with a wonderful dexterity. He has told me that orders come with unfailing regularity and never on one single occasion has he been left without work to do.
He has implicit faith in the Bible promise “The Lord will provide” There have been dark days when he has nearly finished his last order and yet nothing will shake his faith. Always there has come fresh work to meet his need.
He comes of a gardening family and loves to show you his garden and tell you about his plants. He knows all our voices and responds gaily to one’s salutation as he walks fearlessly and unhesitatingly through the village with his white stick as protection. The disability of complete blindness is to Tom Burrows as if it did not exist. What a wonderful example to us all.