This has been a big year for Bradford actress Kitty McGeever, who made TV history by becoming the first blind actress in a British soap.

Kitty, who lost her sight months after her baby was born prematurely, plays wayward ex-con Lizzie Lakely in Yorkshire soap Emmerdale.

She made her debut on the show in April, when Lizzie arrived in the village on community service. Since then she’s become a popular regular, and says she enjoys being “part of the family.”

Kitty, from Wyke, landed the role after producers saw her one-woman comedy show, Luvvie’s Blind, based on her experiences of being blind. Kitty, 43, works with two assistants on Emmerdale, who help her with learning her scenes and guiding her on to the set.

Landing a role in the hit soap was one of the highlights of 2009 for Kitty. It also gave her something to celebrate after enduring a string of personal tragedies.

Her younger sister died from a viral form of meningitis and, after seeing her parents cope with the loss of a child, years later they were the ones supporting Kitty when her only child, Felix, who suffered from respiratory problems, succumbed to an infection in 2003.

He was 15 months old and his death compounded Kitty’s health problems. She has suffered with diabetes since she was 19, and while Felix wasn’t well, she experienced spots on her eyes and bouts of blurred vision. Within five months she lost her sight.

But the RADA-trained actress refuses to be down beat and takes her inspiration from her little boy.

1. Describe your best moment(s) of the year.

My best moment of the year was going on This Morning with Fern and Phil – to be there in the studio when I’ve watched it so many years! They were so lovely and gorgeous with me. I got on so well with them, I had a fantastic time there.

2. Describe your worst moments of the year The worst moment was when my friend Janet Greenwood died on September 20. That was an horrific low point for me.

3. Who has helped you most in 2009 and how?

My assistant Anne Marshall. All through nursing Janet, if I had not had her with me it would have been so much harder. It is for her friendship, for her support. She takes me to work, puts scripts on to the dictaphone, assists me on set and in make-up, takes me shopping, and we have great fun because we are good friends as well. There is a great bond between Anne and I.

4. Did the year hold any surprises for you?

Working with such wonderful people on Emmerdale. I didn’t expect it to be such a wonderful family place to work.

5. Funniest memory of 2009?

This is quite macabre and yet it’s funny because it sums up my darling friend Janet. She had an amazing sense of humour. Me and our friend Brenda were sitting either side of her bed, Janet hadn’t spoken for ages and we were talking about champagne. I said, ‘we have nothing to come back for. We’ve supped some stuff!’ Brenda was talking about a magnum of champagne Janet received from a company she’d worked for for 25 years. She said she couldn’t think of the name, and Janet suddenly said ‘Bollinger.’ We just laughed our heads off.

6. What’s your favourite place and time of the year?

My favourite place is Whitby. Many childhood holidays were spent there and I still try to go once a year. My favourite time of year is autumn. I love the smells and the feel of the leaves under my feet.

7. Has 2009 taught you anything?

I’ve learned through what I’ve gone through. It has taught me how lucky I am to be here, but similarly it has taught me that when Janet was ill and when I sat up many nights with her we had conversations and she would say, ‘you should not be doing this’, and I said there is nowhere in the world I would rather be.

8. What would you like to see happen in 2010 on a personal/professional level and also in wider terms?

On a personal level I don’t want it to be quite as eventful. I want to carry on and enjoy my work and spend more time with my family. I’ve just signed for another year in Emmerdale so I’m there for a while.

9. Do you have any New Year resolutions?

I want to be healthy. I am not eating as well as I should be doing and I’m not as fit. I broke my foot and I’ve been in a wheelchair, so it means I’m not as active.

10. Who would be your person of the year for 2009?

Any person in my life, Janet, her daughter Charlotte, Anne Marshall and her son, David. Everybody We moan about such petty little things and this boy has life sewn up. He wakes up with a smile and he inspires me.