EXCLUSIVE: Love Island’s first partially sighted signing Ron Halls says school bullies called him cruel names like ‘Popeye’ but he overcame their taunts by making light of his disability
Love Island‘s first partially sighted signing Ron Halls was cruelly nicknamed ‘Popeye’ at school but says he overcame bullies by making light of his disability.
The 25-year-old from Essex, who lost the vision in his right eye aged eight, told MailOnline he would make jokes to cope with remarks about his impairment, even calling himself ‘Ron One Eye.’
Ron was playing a game of football when a nasty accident left him with a detached retina and after having over 10 operations to restore his sight, he was told by doctors that it would never return.
Until the age of 18 he suffered horrendous pain due to UV and sunlight and professionals were stunned when it disappeared as he entered his late teens.
Love Island’s first partially sighted signing Ron Halls was cruelly nicknamed ‘Popeye’ at school but says he overcame bullies by making light of his disability
He explained: ‘When I was eight I was playing football in a match and the ball basically came over and I went down to head the ball. He went up with his foot, basically knocked me out and detached my retina.
‘I had a lot of operations, I don’t know what happened but it became very severe and they weren’t working.
‘I can’t remember how many operations I had between a year and two years, probably between 10-12, I have silicone oil in the back of it and a buckle and basically by operation 6 or 7 they told me I won’t get my sight back.’
The new Love Island contestant spoke about the pain he suffered as a result of the injury, saying he was in agony for years of his life before the soreness eventually stopped.
The 25-year-old, who lost the vision in his right eye aged eight, told MailOnline he would make jokes to cope with remarks about his impairment, even calling himself ‘Ron One Eye’
He said: ‘Obviously, I was a kid at the time and I didn’t want any pain but the problem was from the age of 8-18, it was extremely painful.
‘UV light, sunlight, it was almost like someone pocking you in the eye all the time. But for some reason and we have no idea to this day when I was about 18/19 the pain just stopped.
‘I could open my eye properly and look out into the sun with no sunglasses and it no longer waters.’
Despite Ron’s best efforts to get on with his life as normal, he details being picked on by school bullies and called names, though he quickly found a way to stay strong against any hatred.
Until the age of 18, Ron suffered horrendous pain due to UV and sunlight and professionals were stunned when it disappeared as he entered his late teens
He said: ‘Yes, when I was younger people called me pirate, Popeye, but I used to call myself and my Xbox name was Ron One Eye and we would make jokes about it all the time.
‘The fact I always made jokes and me and my friends made jokes you become very comfortable with anyone that says anything and I’ve never really been impacted by bullying.
‘When I was younger, I was more self conscious about taking pictures because it used to close up a little bit.
‘Even now when it comes down to talking to camera or pictures sometimes, I have a little head tilt because I’ve naturally developed a head tilt, sometimes I can look to centre camera and my eye might be slightly right so there are things that I always pick up on, like anyone about their own body.’
Ron follows in the footsteps of 2022 Islander Tasha Ghouri, who was the first deaf contestant to appear on the show
Ron is Love Island’s first visionally impaired signing and follows in the footsteps of 2022 contestant Tasha Ghouri, who was born completely deaf and now wears a cochlear hearing aid.
He says that like the dancer, he hopes to inspire young people in the same position as him and hopes his confidence in talking to girls proves having a disability shouldn’t hold you back.
‘If I met a 12-year-old boy or girl who was blind in one eye and didn’t know how to deal with things and was having trouble, I would love to spend time with them and talk them through how I dealt with it and how I think it’s been amazing,’ Ron explained.
‘Obviously, we all wish we had two eyes that work and you have to look after your senses but how to use it to your advantage and be confident and not let people impact you, hate, bullying.
‘If I’m on Love Island for a day, a week, or the whole show… if there’s one person who sitting at home who has anything similar that is watching me and thinking he’s really confident talking to girls about his eye and he’s telling everyone about it like it’s nothing, absolutely, if I can do that it would be insane to me.’