Love Island cast member Hugo Hammond has said he hopes to show people that having a disability does not mean you do not “have a right to find love”.
The 24-year-old PE teacher from Hampshire, who was born with club foot, is the dating show’s first contestant with a physical disability.
Hammond said he considers himself “not a disabled person, but just a person who has a disability”.
“If I can set a great example and show people that having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t be mainstream or it doesn’t mean that I don’t have a right to find love and things like that, then that would be great and I would love to be the torch bearer for that,” he said.
Hammond said he is “very comfortable” with his disability, adding: “I’m very lucky that I had very supportive parents growing up and they kind of got all my operations done at an early age, so to be honest I don’t really remember it that much.
“I now just walk with a little bit of extra swagger is how I like to describe it, as I wobble about sometimes without my shoes on.
“It doesn’t define me.”
He added that his fellow islanders “probably will notice at some point, especially when I’m not walking in shoes, because I have got a slightly shorter Achilles tendon from the operation, so I walk slightly on my tiptoes”.
“So people will notice and I will very happily educate them and tell them and inform them about everything I have been through and what other people go through,” he added.
Hammond said if his pupils tune in to watch him on Love Island “they will probably be a little bit shocked but hopefully they will be supportive and they will enjoy it”.
The new series, in which Laura Whitmore will return as host, starts on Monday at 9pm and airs on ITV2 and the ITV Hub.