At 19 years old, Jill suddenly lost her sight from diabetic retinopathy. While adjusting to the huge change, Jill’s mum encouraged her to give hospital radio a go – and Jill found her new passion.
Jill studied sound engineering and came top of her class of eighty boys before taking a media degree at university and became a qualified journalist.
Around 12 years ago Jill joined RNIB Connect Radio (originally Insight Radio) in Scotland, Europe’s first station for blind and partially sighted people.
Every weekday Jill presents her show The Morning Mix on RNIB Connect. It’s a mix of great tunes, disability issues and listener call-ins, with her own unique mix of empathy, positivity and fun. She has also worked with BBC Radio Scotland hosting the Music Match and this year she took covered a late night slot, presenting The Jill Barkley Show. Some of those listeners now tune in to RNIB Connect, too.
As well as being a fantastic role model for what visually impaired people can achieve, Jill has been very open and frank about the challenges, including the breakdown she had a few years after losing her sight. She’s an ambassador for RNIB and Guide Dogs UK, regularly speaks for both charities at events, and featured in a documentary about guide dogs on ITV.
Jill’s a regular at festivals, where she reviews performances and interviews acts. She’s usually right at the front of the crowd at the shows, and has interviewed huge international stars including Dolly Parton, Guy Garvey from Elbow and Florence Welch from Florence + The Machine. She throws herself in to a huge range of things, from fire-breathing to conducting an orchestra, to flying a light aircraft!
Find out more about Jill here: https://twitter.com/Jill_Barkley