Hands That See

a masseuse

As a young boy growing up in Plymouth, England, Chris Soothill imagined joining the army or navy someday. Those dreams were dashed after he was diagnosed with a visual impairment. But life had other plans.

He came to the U.S. in 1999 at age 27 to marry an American woman. He landed a job, first in customer service and then in finance, for the Winston-Salem office of a global consulting firm. In 2007, Chris started exploring options for a second career, in addition to his daytime job.

Around that time, he took an Introduction to Massage Therapy class offered by Forsyth Tech. He was hooked instantly. Massage therapy required using his brain in new and totally different ways from his numbers-driven, 9-to-5 position. After enrolling in the program part time in fall 2007, he continued to work full time. And in May 2009, he received his license.

One of Chris’ courses at Forsyth Tech was a Swedish and sports massage class with instructor David Black, who became Chris’ mentor. David taught Chris that massage therapy is not just a “fluff and buff” spa experience but a treatment designed to figure out a physical problem and fix it. His instructor’s passion for the profession rubbed off on Chris.

“If I can reduce or take away someone’s pain, I’ve improved that person’s quality of life,” says Chris. Massage therapy has given him a new way to see the world. “I sometimes work with my eyes closed,” he says. “I like to see what my hands are telling me.”