Asperger's sufferer becomes shark jewellery designer after beating cancer
An Asperger’s sufferer has followed his dream of becoming a shark jewellery designer after beating cancer and finally being diagnosed with autism.
Darran Knight, who worked as a bus driver in Epsom for eight years before quitting to design shark jewellery and models, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year.
But the 45-year-old, who has had Asperger’s syndrome since he was a child, a condition which means individuals find social interaction very difficult, got the all-clear from cancer three months ago which, along with an official diagnosis of the syndrome a month later, spurred him into action.
Mr Knight, has been obsessed with sharks since watching the film Jaws at the age of eight.
He said: "When I was younger, I would hide myself away.
"You feel you have no one to turn to, but you get used to it and work with it. It’s up to you if you let it take over.
"Now, at 45, being diagnosed was a freedom. Older people have a hard time getting diagnosed, but then suddenly things changed.
"With Asperger’s you end up focusing on one thing. Mine has always been sharks."
Mr Knight, from Sutton, designs rings, pendants, and earrings and is planning to start an online shop - after undertaking an adventure with great white sharks this summer in Mossel Bay, South Africa which inspired his designs.
He said: "It’s no good being a 3D shark drawer without having seen sharks.
"I’d never been out to see them before and then I had ones which were 4.5m long coming right up to me - they are really out of this world, gorgeous and inspiring.
"There is a complete difference between what’s in people’s minds about sharks and what you feel when you see them."
Mr Knight said he also attended Jawsfest - a convention celebrating the famous film and publicising issues around the conservation of great white sharks.
He said: "I bumped into Wendy Betchley, whose husband Peter wrote the book Jaws is based on, and gave her a pair of my earrings which she really liked."
The designer has now set to work on his first commission from Monique Fallows, wife of Chris Fallows, who Mr Knight has been pen pals with for the past 13 years. Both are renowned shark experts who have appeared on the Discovery Channel.
He added: "Great white sharks get a very bad name because of how they’re portrayed and I’ve always felt there was a different side to them. They have been an eye-opener."
To view Mr Knight's collection visit sharkjewellerybydzn.com