Milton Keynes entrepreneur named one of Britain’s ‘most influential people with a disability’

Published in MK Web, 12th October 2014 The founder and owner of Milton Keynes-based Oliver James Garden Rooms has been shortlisted in the inaugural Power100 list of ‘Britain’s Most Influential Disabled People’. James King is among the potential winners to be announced at a star-studded gala evening at Canary Wharf later this month. This is the very first time the list has been published and will showcase the top 100 people regarded as role models in their fields who have also overcome the challenges of having a disability. Those expected to be named include Paralympians, business leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs and representatives from the arts and media. James, 48, of Bletchley, who suffers from a vision impairment called Retinitis Pigmentosa, has been registered blind since 1998, but didn’t let it stop him from founding a thriving, glazed home-extension company with a turnover currently in excess of half a million pounds. James said: “We can learn so much from individuals who have had to navigate a different, tougher path. We are all only a click of a finger away from a life changing moment that could leave us having to learn new skills. “I genuinely believe that the more you scratch the surface of ALL creative game changers you will find some inability that these people have faced or face.” Known as the ‘Blind Builder with a Big Vision’, James added: “I’m keen to show that adversity should not stop you achieving your goals. When people think of the tallest column in Trafalgar Square, they don’t think of a man with one arm and one eye, they think of Admiral Nelson. People...

BBC News: The blind builder with a big vision

Published in BBC News, 21st March 2014 An expanse of smooth concrete, neatly piled bricks and barely a speck of dust in sight – this is not your average building site. James King, founder of Oliver James Garden Rooms, has just arrived at his latest project in Milton Keynes. When the build is completed in May it will house a kitchen and additional living space in an open plan format. Yet, surveying the spick and span surroundings, James doesn’t look happy. “It’s a bit of a mess,” he frowns. James is a stickler for tidiness. But there’s a very practical reason behind his insistence on perfection. “I’m registered blind, it’s a condition called retinitis pigmentosa,” he says. “I basically have 10% sight but with no peripheral vision. “It’s like looking through a letterbox or a viewfinder in a camera. Because my sight is so poor there can’t be anything lying around for me to trip over.” James, 48, has worked in construction since he was 18. He first noticed a problem with his sight in his early 20s. “I tried to get on with my job on a building site, but my eyes kept getting worse. At night I couldn’t see at all. “I tried to ignore it but it started to impact on my work. When I was on sites as part of a team, we were paid by how many bricks we laid and I was getting slower and slower because I couldn’t see properly. It was hampering my colleagues.” He was forced to rethink his direction within the industry and in the end he managed to turn...

James King wins Sir Stelios award

Published in Stelios.com, 13th December 2013 Stelios Philanthropic Foundation raises £2700 for Leonard Cheshire Disability at entrepreneurs award ceremony. A disabled businessman from Milton Keynes has won the prestigious Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2013. James King, (pictured centre with Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and MikePenning MP, Minister for Disabled People) who runs a home extension firm called Oliver James Garden Rooms, won the award run by easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. Now in its seventh year, it recognises the unique achievements of disabled entrepreneurs and offers a £50,000 cash prize to the winner – the largest cash sum of its kind. James, 47, is registered blind and also has dyslexia. He has seen off tough competition to win this year, having made it to the top three last year and narrowly missing out on the top spot. James and his team design and build garden room extensions, which have tiled roofs. Unlike a traditional conservatory, the rooms are warm in winter and cool in summer. But the journey to a growing, healthy business has not been a walk in the park for James. In his early 20s he began his career as a bricklayer in the construction industry. It wasn’t until later that he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a hereditary eye condition which affects the retina. James had to give up bricklaying and work around his disability, so he moved into contracting. However, as his vision deteriorated James decided he must change direction. It was during this difficult time that the idea to set up a company making ‘garden rooms’ came to him....

The Sun: James is Business King!

Published in The Sun, 19th December 2013 ENTREPRENEUR James King has won an award giving him £50,000 to expand his business – despite being registered blind. James, from Milton Keynes, won the gong for his company Oliver James Garden Rooms, which created glazed home extensions. The Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs, run by easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-loannou with the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity, recognises the achievements of disabled entrepreneurs. James, 47, was a bricklayer until his early twenties, when he was diagnosed with hereditary eye condition Retinitis Pigmentosa. He said: “Because of my vision we have to overcome certain situations but because of this, we end up with a better standard.” Sir Stelios said: “I have been really impressed by the growth of James’ business and the way he is meeting a genuine need in the...

IN:MK MK Builder wins Stelios Award

Published in IN:MK, December 2013 Blind Milton Keynes Builder Wins £50,000 from Stelios in Entrepreneur of the Year Award A partially-sighted businessman from Milton Keynes has won the prestigious Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs. Disabled entrepreneur wins award from SteliosJames King, who runs a home extension firm called Oliver James Garden Rooms, was crowned the 2013 winner by easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. James, 47, suffers from Retinitis Pigmentosa which severely limits his field of vision and means he is officially registered blind. James says of his disability, “When people think of the tallest column in Trafalgar Square, they don’t think of a man with one arm and one eye, they see Admiral Nelson. Disabled people don’t want to be thought of in terms of what they can’t do, but what they can.” James and his team design and build garden room extensions, which have tiled roofs. Unlike a traditional conservatory, the rooms are warm in winter, cool in summer and useable all-year-round. In his early twenties James began his career as a bricklayer in the construction industry. It wasn’t until later that he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition which affects the retina. It was during this difficult time that the idea to set up a company making ‘garden rooms’ came to him. Now with a workforce of eight and a turnover of £300,000, James works with homeowners across Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire. Winning the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs means that he will be able to go ahead with plans to expand his client base to new areas...

MK News: Milton Keynes disabled entrepreneur wins award from easyJet founder Sir Stelios

Published in MK Web, 14th December 2013 A DISABLED businessman from Milton Keynes has won the prestigious Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2013. James King, who runs a home extension firm called Oliver James Garden Rooms, won the award run by easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability. Now in its seventh year, it recognises the unique achievements of disabled entrepreneurs and offers a £50,000 cash prize to the winner – the largest cash sum of its kind. James, 47, is registered blind and also has dyslexia. He has seen off tough competition to win this year, having made it to the top three last year and narrowly missing out on the top spot. James and his team design and build garden room extensions, which have tiled roofs. Unlike a traditional conservatory, the rooms are warm in winter and cool in summer. But the journey to a growing, healthy business has not been a walk in the park for James. In his early 20’s he began his career as a bricklayer in the construction industry. It wasn’t until later that he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a hereditary eye condition which affects the retina. James had to give up bricklaying and work around his disability, so he moved into contracting. However, as his vision deteriorated James decided he must change direction. It was during this difficult time that the idea to set up a company making ‘garden rooms’ came to him. He set up Oliver James Garden Rooms and began trading in 2011. Now with a workforce of seven and a turnover of almost £300,000, James...
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