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From marathon cycle rides to climbing mountains - nothing holds Hassan back


Hassan Hayat, who is blind, pictured taking part in a hill climb

‘Be a fighter and say yes you can’, says YAYA award winner

For most people, completing not one but two coast-to-coast cycle rides and climbing Mount Snowdon and Pen-y-ghent would be challenging enough but for Hassan Hayat, who is registered blind and sufferers from a rare degenerative genetic condition, it’s nothing short of inspirational.

The 25-year-old Bradfordian has just been honoured at this year’s YAYA (Yorkshire Asian Young Achievers) Awards, winning the category of Achievement in Overcoming Life Obstacles Award, which is sponsored by the University of Bradford as part of its ongoing commitment to social mobility in the district.

Hassan has Alstrom Syndrome, a degenerative disorder characterised by vision and hearing loss, obesity and diabetes. He lost his sight when he was about 13 but does not let it hinder him.

Over the last few years, he has undertaken more challenges than most, completing two 130-mile coast-to-coast tandem cycle rides, climbing two of Britain’s highest peaks (a planned ascent of Ben Nevis this year had to be postponed because of lockdown), and taking part in numerous fundraising events for charity. In addition to that, Hassan plays veer goalball, blind cricket, does karate and trains (both himself and others) in the gym. He has also done several podcasts for the University’s radio station, RamAir.

Commenting on his achievements, he said: “At the end of the day, I’m a fighter. I don’t like to let anything hold me back and I want to show other people what can be done. I have climbed Snowdon and Pen-y-ghent and am planning to do Ben Nevis next year. I enjoy cycling and the walks are great fun too.

“I think you have to fight for yourself, to challenge obstacles and overcome barriers. What I would say to other people like me is, don’t say you cannot do something, say yes you can. We’re all believers.”

Adam Tasker, University of Bradford Student Development Leader and close friend of Hassan, used to run a lottery-funded project called Choices 4 All, which enabled students to interact with disabled people.

He said: “Hassan is a joy to be around, his constant enthusiasm and optimism boosts the spirits of those around him. He's thrown himself into cycling, hiking, and numerous other sports and before Covid hit, he was organising a national sporting event at the University for people with Alstrom Syndrome. He has also given a presentation on healthy eating to students.”

Hassan attends Henshaw’s Specialist College, Harrogate, where he is training to be a gym instructor. He added he was grateful to receive the award and that he was looking forward to his next challenge (in addition to climbing Ben Nevis), which will involve cycling from Bradford to Hull and then travelling via ferry to cycle around Holland and Belgium.

Father Kez said: “We would like to thank Adam Tasker at the University, who is doing a phenomenal job in terms of offering a great number of opportunities to these young people, despite the challenges they have. The care, compassion and his person-centred approach is exemplary and it has had such a positive impact on Hassan’s life - it truly has opened many doors and created great opportunities for all the young people Adam works with.”

Professor of Diversity, Udy Archibong, said: "The university is proud to be associated with the YAYA Awards and to sponsor the category in which Hassan won. We're also proud of Hassan's association with our University and the opportunities it has created for him. Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion is at the heart of the University's vision and this award is a prime example of how we are making that vision a reality."

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