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Visually impaired graphic design student wins Prince’s Trust Award

News | 21 February 2024

A student from Cardiff Metropolitan University has received a Prince’s Trust Award after following his passion to become a graphic designer despite being visually impaired.

Tom Gullick, 28, from Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale, received The Prince’s Trust Marvel Young Change Maker Award, recognising a young person who has turned their life around and used their personal experiences to speak out and inspire others.

Tom Gullick with award

Tom, who is registered as visually impaired, is currently studying BA (Hons) Graphic Design & Communication at Cardiff Met as a mature student – a career he has dreamed of since being a child.

Tom said: “Ever since I was young, I have always loved design, I would look at things and wonder how they were designed – it just really interested me. After I left school, I built up a portfolio of my work as people would ask for support with flyers and banners.”

But in 2021, following years of knockbacks trying to get a job at a graphic design agency, Tom suffered a serious mental breakdown. It was during this time that he discovered The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme – which helped Tom reclaim control of his life and start his own business, Pixel Valley, a digital design agency for small and medium-sized organisations.

Tom continued: “There is a huge amount of discrimination in the industry unfortunately – people automatically assume that if you have a visual impairment, you cannot be a graphic designer, but this isn’t the case.

“I was encouraged by my mentor at The Prince’s Trust to use my talent in graphic design to start my own agency. I have been able to meet new people through networking events who have opened doors on my journey, and with the support of my mentor, I even gained the confidence to apply to university to hone my skills. I now do lots of motivational talks to other young people who may be struggling. The Prince’s Trust changed my life.”

Tom has gone on to become a Young Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, championing youth and disability organisations in Wales.

Tom said: “In the future, I’d love to work for a graphic design agency so I can be part of a bigger team and work across multiple projects. I am determined to prove people wrong and change the public perception – I am blind, and I am a designer, it doesn’t need to limit what you can do.”

Youth charity The Prince’s Trust gives young people the skills and confidence to get their lives on track. Three in four young people helped by The Prince’s Trust move into work, training or education.

David Wrenne, Senior Lecturer of Graphic Design and Communication at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said: “Tom has already made an impressive contribution to the course and is showing excellent potential through his project work. His working process demonstrates a willingness to draw on his personal experience along with a determination not to be constrained in his ambition to do great work.

“Tom brings a fresh perspective in his approach to graphic design which has been enlightening and informative, both for his peers and the staff who work with him. As a staff team, we are excited to see how Tom develops as a graphic design practitioner over the next three years and are certain that he will be an inspiration for others.”

The Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense Awards recognise young people who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life and had a positive impact on their local community.

Tom’s full case study can be found on The Prince’s Trust webpage.