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WATCH: Blind Dave's inspirational story reaches big screen with film premiere

By Andrew Turton | Entertainment | Published: | Last Updated:

"I'm just some old codger from West Bromwich."

Left to right, lead actor Jack Lane, Charlie Bowell who played a young dave, Co-director Dominic Higgins, "Blind Dave" Heeley, producer Nigel Martin Davey and Co-director Ian Higgins

'Blind Dave' Heeley is as self-deprecating as ever. This despite his incredible life story.

You know. Going blind from a degenerative eye condition. Becoming the first blind man to run seven marathons in seven continents in seven days.

Raising £3m for charity in a decade-long series of challenges which would make even an Olympic athlete wince.

Dave Heeley

That's the one. And now his story has been turned into a biopic by filmmakers who can't quite believe it themselves.

"I never knew Dave was so famous. It's incredible. It's an amazing thing to be part of," said the film's Birmingham-born producer Nigel Martin Davey.

Guests arrived on Friday night at the Birmingham Rep Theatre for the screening of 7 Days: The story of Blind Dave Heeley.

WATCH: Highlights of the night

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Film biopic about 'Blind Dave' Heeley premieres in Birmingham

The film has been around two years in production - mainly thanks to the clout and backing of Aston Villa icon, the late Sir Doug Ellis.

And now invited guests along with the cast and crew were invited to the premiere ahead of the film's release in May.

Dave said: "I don't think it has sunk in yet. It is like a lot of things which have happened in my life.

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"We are here at the Birmingham Rep and the buzz won't hit me until people actually get the chance to see it.

"It is fantastic that these lads wanted to make this."

GALLERY: More highlights

Nigel, 53, added: "What attracts you to Dave is what he has done but when you meet and spend time with him, you think 'Hold on a minute, there's something in this'.

"You don't always meet people like this in real life. It was more about who Dave is than what he has done."

He added: "When we started to make the film we had no money. I knew a chap who had supported Blind charities for 60 years. That was the late Sir Doug Ellis.

"I told him what it was all about. He said 'Come and have a cup of coffee' and then when I left after that cup of coffee I had a film."

Even the extras had a special part to play. Many of them were friends of the likeable family man Dave from West Bromwich.

Charlie Boswell, aged 13, plays a young Dave Heeley who discovers his sight is gradually failing during an eye test.

The schoolboy, from Bromsgrove, had never acted before when his parents were approached by family friend Nigel.

"Nigel spotted him in his Baggies top at our house," said his mother Samantha. "He said would he like to be in a film."

Charlie said: "It has been really fun. He is inspiring and it has been an honour to be part of it."

And Samantha, 47, and Charlie's father Andy, 57, also had roles as extras in a crowd scene in the film.

Stage actor Jack Lane took the title role and worked a busy schedule, filming scenes in downtime from touring UK theatres with Wisdom Of A Fool, a show based on the life and work of comedy actor Norman Wisdom.

"It is funny in that I came from playing Norman Wisdom and it has a similar trait, playing an underdog," said the 31-year-old actor from West Sussex.

"For me it is so inspiring that somebody who has maybe been dealt some bum cards in their life, has said 'No, I'm not taking that, that is not going to define me'."

Other actors in the film include former Casualty star Sarah Manners, from Birmingham, who plays Dave's wife Deb and Harry Potter stars James and Oliver Phelps, who hail from Sutton Coldfield and are best known for playing Fred and George Weasley, who have small roles in the film.

Brothers Dominic and Ian Higgins directed the short film which was shot at a host of Midlands locations including The Hawthorns, home of Dave's beloved West Brom.

Dave made a cameo as a pilot in the film before returning at the end in scenes filmed at an Albion game as the keen Baggies fan received a symbolic key to the club from West Brom's Darren Moore.

Dave is already planning future fundraising challenges to support West Brom's charitable arm, The Albion Foundation.

Andrew Turton

By Andrew Turton
Digital Journalist

Digital journalist based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton. Interested in breaking news and social media. Get in touch on Twitter @aturton_star or andrew.turton@expressandstar.co.uk

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