Raising disability awareness would be ‘fantastic’, says incoming Love Islander

Contestant Ron Hall lost the sight in one eye while playing football aged eight.
Contestant Ron Hall lost the sight in one eye while playing football aged eight.

Incoming Love Islander Ron Hall has said it would be “fantastic” if he could raise awareness while in the villa about being partially sighted.

The 25-year-old financial adviser from Essex is one of 10 contestants who will be trying to find love when the new South African winter series of the ITV2 reality show kicks off on January 16.

Hall lost his sight in one eye while playing football aged eight which he feels has shaped him as a person “in a really good way” and been a “great conversation starter” when talking to women.

Speaking ahead of entering the villa, he said: “I just think of myself as normal, although yeah I am disabled and I don’t mind the label. If I can bring awareness and be vocal about it, then fantastic.

“If there’s someone sitting at home, there’s another lad or girl who’s partially sighted or feels a bit insecure about something to do with their vision, whether it’s blind in one eye, or whatever the situation is, and I can make an impact on them to say, ‘You know what, this guy is confident and he’s gone on this show and he’s still talking to girls with no problem even though he’s got “something wrong with him”‘ then yeah, that’s fantastic if I can do that.

“For me, obviously, I’ve just dealt with it in my own day-to-day. I see it as normal, I’ve had it for 17 years, so I’ve never really thought about it too much. But absolutely, if I can do that for people 100% it would be great.”

He admitted that life after his accident was challenging due to the pain from the injury and the mean comments and stares he would get from other children.

However, he said he has learned to adapt and turned it into a positive in his life.

“I try and use it to my advantage, it’s a great conversation starter, I’ve got two different colour eyes. All right, one might look a bit funny and a bit cloudy but that’s part and parcel of what life throws at you,” he said.

“When dealing with comments and things like that, I’ve got thick skin, I’ve learned to deal with that.”

Hall, who will be the first partially sighted contestant on Love Island, added that he feels his ability to deal with confrontation will serve him well in the villa and said he would “one million per cent” call out poor or disrespectful behaviour.

“In the scenario of say a bloke’s either sworn at another girl or they’re in an argument and he’s said something that he probably shouldn’t have, I like to think I’m a bit of a defuser”, he said.

“So I will 100% step in and say ‘Look, mate, you’re talking to a girl here just watch your tone’ and calm down the situation.”

As part of ITV’s duty of care policies, contestants will receive “guidance and training” around “mutually respectful behaviour in relationships” after the last series prompted thousands of complaints to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.

Many of the complaints related to “alleged misogynistic and bullying behaviour” by some islanders, although they were not upheld.

Fellow incoming islander Shaq Muhammad, 24, said he feels it is “really important to have that extra bit of education” before going into the villa, for the contestants and the show.

“You can never have too much education on how to speak to people and how to treat people. So I feel like it’s really good that ITV have done that,” he added.

He said he would also call out someone if he thought their behaviour was inappropriate but that he would not do it in an “aggressive” way as he would not want to embarrass them in public.

The airport security officer from London also admitted that he is “quite a confident person” and has chatted up women as they were travelling through the airport.

He said: “I have to do it sneakily by giving them my information because I can’t get my phone up. So I say you should follow me on Instagram or take my number or something like that and usually it works.

“The airport is a good place to pick up women, like exotic women. So I try my best.”

The upcoming series, which will see Maya Jama as the new host after taking over from Laura Whitmore, is the show’s first winter series since before the coronavirus pandemic.

New additions also include Made In Chelsea star Sam Thompson and Indiyah Polack, who was a finalist on the show last year, who are joining as regular panellists on Love Island’s Aftersun programme.

Love Island returns on Monday January 16 at 9pm on ITV2 and ITVX.