‘Don’t tell me I can’t’ - Gavin's story

Gavin Northcroft in his element. Photo: Sharnae Hope.

Gavin Northcroft has a disorder that's around 30 characters long - too long for him to remember - but it falls somewhere between a cataract and complete blindness.

Born in Taupo hospital completely blind and with severe hearing loss and a hole in his heart, he was abandoned by his parents at 10-days-old and brought up by his grandmother.

“I have several conditions that tie in with each other,” explains Gavin. “One's a stigmata, which means when I look at someone one of my eyes can't keep still.”

“I wasn't supposed to survive past 10 days, but I think my grandma had other ideas.

“I spent the first three years of my life being operated on and they basically scraped away at my eyes for three years. I've had ongoing surgery up until the age of 21 until they got to the point where they couldn't do much more.”

His mum suffered a severe case of German Measles Rubella during her pregnancy with Gavin.

He was a miracle baby to say the least, and describes his upbringing as being on the lower socioeconomic side of life. But doesn't put the blame on his parents - instead he blames the lack of support.

In 1969 there was little support for someone with a disability, despite orientation towards large institutions for disabled people being challenged and special education facilities being developed across New Zealand.

He says his only real support came from his grandmother, who was his mum, his dad and his friend.

“She was an amazing lady, she fought tooth and nail for me to at least get by in life, because back then the system wanted to put me in a box and put me in an institution. That's what you did back then.”

He says disabled rights have improved significantly in terms of system support, but there is still a long way to go when it comes to general awareness.

“More people need to stop and think about whether someone has a disorder. That doesn't mean you treat them like their stupid, but people need to be aware.”

One occasion of ignorance was when Gavin went to a petrol station. Because he can't drive, a friend of his volunteered.

As Gavin walked up to the counter to pay for petrol, he moved his glasses to see the Eftpos machine properly.

“The guy at the counter then said to my friend ‘good thing you're driving because your mate looks like he's really drunk'.

“My friend then said ‘well, he's actually legally blind, mate'. Sometimes people's ignorance is still there and they shouldn't judge as quickly.”

Despite a few rollercoaster moments, Gavin considers himself fortunate because, unlike many visually impaired people, with the help of his specially-designed glasses he is still able to watch his 22-month-old daughter dance and play.

“I think sometimes it's easy for some people with disabilities to sit back and say ‘I can't, I can't, I can't' and I didn't want to be one of those people.

“I thought let me try first, and if I fail, well at least I tried.

“Don't tell me I can't, because I'm just going to find a way to get around it.”

Now a self-employed music producer and owner of GN Tracks music production company, there really is nothing he can't do.

“You often find that what you lose with your eyesight, you get back in other ways, and mine was music.”

Music has always been Gavin's life. He taught himself how to play the piano at the age of three, the drums at six, keyboards at seven, guitar at 10 and bass at 12. He even started teaching himself the saxophone at 14.

He has also been in many bands, such as Switch and Five o'clock Shadow.

As his own saying goes: “Don't tell me I can't, because I'll ask ‘how do I get around it?'”



2 Comments

Gavin

Posted on 07-11-2017 08:30 | By overit

is an awesome musician and an inspiration.

good news

Posted on 07-11-2017 08:09 | By I like Papamoa.

Thank you Sunlive, that was a good news and also encouragement for others.

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