A teenager who has overcome sight problems to be a role model for other youngsters has been nominated for a county award celebrating the achievements of young people.

Matthew Waller, of Moat Close, Colne, has Ocular Motor Dysfunction (OMD), a condition which can affect reading, hand-eye co-ordination and balance. It also left him feeling socially awkward, making it harder for him to make friends and join in with others his own age.

“When I was younger, I was always on the outside of any group and wouldn't participate in anything,” he said. “It was very hard for me.”

Now 15, he has made tremendous progress and, as a result, has been shortlisted for a Cambridgeshire Linx Young People of the Year award, or Yopey.

He has tackled his problems by doing vision therapy, as well as throwing himself into sports such as martial arts – he is a black belt in Choi Kwang Do – football and rifle shooting.

After finishing his GCSEs next year he hopes to do physics, chemistry and biology and drama A-levels before going to university.

“My main ambition is to help people like me and maybe develop technology to help,” he said. “I know how they feel and I want to show it is possible to lead an 
ordinary life with OMD and even give back to the community.”

Matthew was nominated for a Yopey by his dad, Richard, a chemistry teacher at Comberton Village College, where his son is a pupil.

“He has been the first pupil in Year 10 in the history of the school to achieve a gold level leadership award,” said Mr Waller.

The award required Matthew to do hours of voluntary work, including helping out at the school reception desk, marshalling the 'Bourne to Run' 10k road race, and playing keyboard in front of the whole school.

The teenager also spends a lot of time looking after his grandmother.

Mr Waller said his son had shown great determination and dedication in overcoming his problems. “It's down to his industry and resolve, which has come from his experience of dealing with the situation,” he added.

INFORMATION: The Yopey awards ceremony will be held at Ely Cathedral in October. For more on the awards, visit www.yopey.org.