Sam Williams is a young man from Llanelli who has been through a lot in his short lifetime. He has had numerous medical conditions and faced many obstacles on a daily basis, which he has had to overcome.
Sam has a genetic disorder, which has resulted in him having epilepsy since he was 8-weeks-old. He also had to have glasses from that age to try and save his sight.
Sam’s mother Shell Williams is immensely proud of her son and she told us a little about his life to date. She said: “Sam never fitted into school. He struggled with sight issues, dyslexia, medicine fog and lack of social skills due to his autism.”
At eleven an unrelated condition caused Sam to loose his sight overnight.
His Mum said: “We nearly lost him for the first time. The Doctors took three weeks to find out the condition causing the issue. They discovered that he was the first person in the world to have this unique problem and that still blows my mind.”
Sam went on to have multiple hospital stays and missed a year of school due to his health. He was in isolation for four months when the swine flu hit due to the risk it posed to his health as he was immune suppressed. He has had nearly one hundred operations mostly on his eyes. Many of these were under local anaesthetic.
Speaking about a turning point in Sam’s life his mother said: “Sam’s ability to learn changed and improved the day we were in the hospital when he was having his right eye removed. It was a pivotal moment in his life. It gave us time to find out what was really important to Sam.
“He learnt Braille extremely quickly for someone with a mild learning disability and astounded his teachers however, social skills were much harder. Going blind is very isolating and over the next couple of years Sam tried his best to get over his loss and we supported him the best we could. There were very dark times for him and no counselling was available that suited Sam’s needs.”
Sam is not the type of chap to roll over and give up. He has plans for the future. We spoke about his dreams and aspirations and he says that one day he would like to be a millionaire.
Speaking about Sam’s decision to become a millionaire his mother said: “I didn’t expect that one, but I said we would support him. How the heck do you support that as a parent I thought?”
Sam says he wants to be a business man and that God has told him that this was his destiny. His Mum set about supporting him and decided to train as a coach, mentor and also to set up a business to support his needs. She said: “We gave Sam one goal he choose at a time. We noticed a massive difference. Firstly it was using a mobile phone, or coming out for family time, or planning a day trip, the small things. He found this hard to achieve at times to achieve the small things. However he did it.
“At 14-years-of-age Sam moved out to go to a specialist blind school, to support him further, however they did not support his additional learning needs. His epilepsy was all over the place and hospital trips were a plenty. Sam failed in the school system, but not in our eyes. We encouraged him at every step and supported his needs and wishes. We talked about dreams and aspirations a lot. Listening became very important.
“He then went to college and again the system failed him as his needs were not understood. Two and a half years ago he decided to come back home and reassess his life. His epilepsy meant he was having fits two to three times per week. He would just recover and then the cycle would start all over again. It was relentless. Around this time he decided he would book a two week holiday to Disney World America. He was 19-years-old, an adult. So how were we going to do this?
“I remember sitting in the travel agents as he rang his 17-year-old brother Joe to see if he would accompany him. We were all crying. Even the travel agent. We prayed he would be well enough to go. He had absolutely no fits whilst there and they had a ball six months later when they went for two weeks holiday. People thought we were crazy, we carried on supporting his wishes.”
Sam says he would now like to write a book about his life and hopes it will be of benefit to others going through the same difficulties he has to go through.
Life has been difficult for Sam’s family as they struggled to get adequate support for his needs. Shell Williams said: “We fight for and get direct payments to support Sam at home after a year of asking. Then finding someone suitable was a nightmare. So there was a delay until last Spring to find the right person. So she starts with Sam. In the meantime he says he wants his own place. So he should but we thought, how do we do this? Meetings, questions and procedures began and got nowhere.
“The PA is perfect for Sam and understands his needs in depth. She has done so much for his confidence and totally supported all that has been asked of her. She’s been an absolute superstar. She didn’t bat an eyelid when Sam announced he would like to own multiple businesses, including working towards an entertainments business. She takes him to meetings and takes notes and becomes a personal secretary to him as well as a friend. Sam often challenges her thinking and I think it’s fair to say he looks out for her and helps her more than he knows.
“Sam’s book is going to be something special to share with the world. He has begun to download all that is in his head for the last ten years. He’s very forward thinking and can see in his minds eye the bigger picture. The social workers are challenged by his thinking. They are not used to motivated people with multiple disabilities.”
Shell told us that Sam wants to put in a complaint to the council with his advocate as he feels discriminated against. She said: “He makes his feelings known. He’s desperate to have his own life and place. In the meantime he has started at a local visual impairment bowls club. Sam loves it and within months he nearly got selected to play for Wales. This has opened a door and he may be playing at an international level fairly soon.”
Speaking about Sam’s business plans Shell said: “His business is nearly ready to roll out and his dream with action is becoming reality. A second PA is employed as a supporter of all things cooking and social life. Again he’s such a good fit for Sam and they have become best buddies even making home brew together, cooking, watching lad’s films and so much more.”
Shell admits to taking a step back from Sam’s support system. She said: “He is able to become more dependent on another support system. One we have created to support him. It’s working. Sam knows his mind. People underestimate his ability all the time. They make judgements all the time, they don’t say hello or ask his opinion. They ignore his abilities and judge on so many levels. This week he sat in a meeting and explained all his wishes his dreams and aspirations and told his social worker of a national project that he has come up with to help others and that is actually becoming reality. If I mentioned the household names you would know who they are. He doesn’t let anyone or anything get in his way. He knows ways to help others and he’s doing this thing. Just watch him. He has a truly entrepreneurial spirit and he’s changing the world one day at a time. If you saw his business plan you would be blown away. Watch this man fly.
“Sam has won an award for being ‘inspirational’. He walked up Snowdon in ten hours. He hopes to become a motivational speaker. I’m so very proud of all he’s achieved. He is amazing and is flying at life! He never makes excuses and finds a way around everything. You should see the social workers face when they meet with Sam.”
Listen to our interview with Sam here: