I don't think I'm any different to the next guy, however many people seem to find my life story and outlook inspiring. Please take a look around my website. Here you'll find information about my background, my professional and personal achievements, my public speaking experience, and just stuff about me in general. Of course I'm far more handsome, charming and interesting in person, so if you want to get in touch, please feel free."
Born with no arms and short legs as a result of the drug thalidomide, Barry de Geest's disability certainly doesn't cramp his style, nor has it ever dampened his enthusiasm for living life to the full.
From a young age Barry has rejected pity and broken stereotypes. He went to "a regular school, with regular people, and was raised as a regular person" - a no-fuss upbringing that helped form the person he is today. "Of course kids mocked, but you learn to cope," says Barry. Mainstream schooling built that immunity and opened up opportunities he might never have had.
As a teenager at high school, Barry achieved sporting glory as coxswain for the Oamaru Rowing Club crew that took out the New Zealand title. He also represented Otago for rowing, and was nominated as a New Zealand representative.
He left home at the age of 18 to study at the University of Otago, then returned a short while later to learn quantity surveying. A couple of years on he left again, this time for Palmerston North. He worked, fell in love, had a child, a break-up, and moved to Auckland.
Today, Barry is the co-owner of a large and successful company, a proud single Dad, a member on and advisor to numerous boards and councils, a professional business consultant and public speaker and a tireless advocate for the rights of the disabled. He's happy to be living independently and he drives a custom-built van with raised pedals and a steering wheel that turns as he leans (an ingenious mechanism that Barry helped design and develop).
When Barry was younger, his goals were to "get a job, to get a car, to buy my own house, and have my own business and family." Suffice to say he's achieved all this and more - positive proof that there are very few barriers to living life the way you want to.
Barry de Geest is living proof that disability needn't hold you back. If anything, he's seen more, done more and achieved more than most. He's a great believer in "having a dream, and having the tenacity to hold onto that dream". He also says "it's important to have the support of others who can share in what you are trying to achieve, and believe in what you are capable of doing". Just some of Barry's milestones include:
PERSONAL HIGHLIGHTS: • Learning to swim
• Riding a 2 wheel scooter
• 22 calibre rifle shooting
• Snow skiing
• Learning to drive
• Leaving home to live independently
• Single dad to teenage son
• Being able to work in the business community
PROFESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: • Co-founder / owner with Carmel Henry of Renaissance Group - a rapidly expanding business with more than 90 staff
• Co-founder / owner with Carmel Henry of One2One Homecare, another highly successful business
• Board member on Disabled Persons Assembly and Crippled Children's Society
• Elected member of Auckland District Health Board
• Board member on Mobility Dogs
• Instrumental in setting up Health & Disabilities Advocates
• Managed and successfully helped organisations that were in trouble (e.g. Wellington Disability Resource Centre, Manawatu Crippled Children's Society)
• Big part of setting up Disability Advisory group to the Ministry of Health
SPORTING HIGHLIGHTS: • Coxswain for Oamaru Rowing Club (1972-78)
• Part of crew that won New Zealand Title (1976)
• Selected to represent Otago in the 8's (1976-8)
• Nominated to represent New Zealand
• A Grade rifle shooter
• Represented North Otago (1977 - 80)
SPEAKING HIGHLIGHTS: • Guest speaker for Human Rights Commission on numerous occasions
• Guest speaker at the New Zealand Leadership Training Programme
• Guest speaker on TV One's Breakfast show
• Motivational speaker for insurance companies
• Advisor to Attitude TV
Never one to shy away from an audience, Barry is in constant demand on the public speaking circuit. His spirit and determination is unique; his story is moving, enlightening and educational. Additionally, Barry's direct approach, combined with his honesty and humour reaches out to his audience and offers a brand new, totally fresh and original perspective. As someone who has experienced unprecedented success in all areas of life against the odds, this man is an inspiration.
Barry talks on a diverse range of subjects and will tailor a speech to fit a specific audience. Some of his more popular topics include:
Anything is possible
For more information about Barry's public speaking experience, availability and rates please complete a no-obligation booking request now.
HERE'S WHAT HIS AUDIENCE SAYS:
"Dear Barry, I just wanted to say thanks again for such an awesome experience yesterday...extremely positive comments about your presentation...thanks for enlightening and entertaining our team!"
Katie Noble, General Manager, Allied Medical Ltd.
"Thank you so much for being the guest speaker out our Holidays Stores consultant's conference over the weekend. You pitched your speech at just the right tempo and your personal journey certainly is an inspiration to everybody that attended.
We could not have been more pleased with the positive messages that the team took away and the conversations that were struck up were testament to this." Leeanne Langridge, General Manager Direct Sales, Air New Zealand
Barry has had his fair share of publicity over the years. From personal triumphs to sporting accolades, to professional milestones and issues relating to the disabled community - here are some news articles that have appeared over the last few decades.
Barry Celebrates His Disability
By William Mace - Manukau Courier - Tuesday, 02 December 2008
Worker Chose Wrong Person to Disrespect
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express - August 10, 2005
Would you like to book Barry de Geest for your event? Do you have a question? Perhaps you just want to say hello! Whether you're a large corporate, a small business, a school, church or youth group, or just an individual - please feel free to get in touch any time: