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|Just Jill: The Autobiography of Jill Allen-King OBE
Jill Allen-King OBE
Lord Colin Low CBE
Brief Description: Just Jill is an inspirational and moving account of one woman’s triumph over adversity and how she used her own experience of disability to benefit others.
When she was growing up during the 1940s very few people were aware that Jill Allen-King had lost one eye as the result of measles when she was a baby. Her disability was a taboo subject and she attended a normal school, progressed to catering college and secured employment as a cook. However, tragedy struck for the second time when glaucoma rendered her completely blind at the age of 24 on what should have been one of the happiest occasions of her life – her wedding day.
For the next seven years Jill barely left the house, too scared to go outside unaccompanied and afraid that she would never again be able to participate in the activities she loved, such as dancing. The birth of her daughter, Jacqueline, gave her renewed purpose but could not give her back the thing she desperately needed – her independence. It was only when Jill got her first guide dog that she began to rediscover the world outside her front door and take those first giant steps towards regaining her confidence and freedom.
Jill’s autobiography charts her journey from partially sighted child to totally blind adult and beyond, a process of readjusting and learning through grit and determination and then using her knowledge and experience to do everything in her power to help others and to campaign for reforms to secure a safer, fairer and more disability-aware environment. It is a story that will provide encouragement to those that are struggling to cope with disabilities and also educate people from all spheres of life about the challenges and needs of disabled people. At the age of 70, Jill continues to fight for the cause, and hopefully her story will inspire others to take up the baton.
About the Author:
Jill Allen-King was born in Southend in 1940, while the Second World War was raging. In spite of being partially sighted, she was able to enjoy a fairly normal childhood and, on achieving a catering qualification, worked as a cook. On losing her sight completely at the age of 24 she embarked on a journey of self-rehabilitation, gradual readjustment and learning, until she finally regained her confidence and independence. She has never allowed the fact that she has lost her sight to hold her back, and she dedicated the rest of her life to voluntary work, campaigning tirelessly to improve facilities for blind and disabled people.
Jill currently chairs the European Blind Union Commission on Mobility and Transport, a position she has held for the past 13 years, and the National Federation of the Blind's Environment Committee. She was awarded the MBE in 1983 and the OBE in 2011. Jill lives in Essex with her second husband, Alvin, who is also blind, and her sixth guide dog, Amanda. She has one daughter, Jacqueline and two grandchildren, Joseph and Emily.