Give Them Wings - can you relate to Paul's story? — Scope | Disability forum

Give Them Wings - can you relate to Paul's story?

Cher_Inactive
Cher_Inactive Posts: 4,414

Scope community team

Today we hear from Paul Hodgson whose life story, based on growing up with cerebral palsy like symptoms, has been the inspiration for an award-winning film.  

Read on and watch the trailer to get insight into Paul's life as a young disabled man in Northern England in the 1960/70's.

Paul sat smiling in his wheelchair


Paul's story

Hi, my name is Paul; I’m from Darlington in County Durham. In 1965 I contracted meningitis. It affected my brain and spinal cord leaving me with cerebral-palsy like symptoms.

For most of my life I have been a wheelchair user and with this in mind, I decided to write my autobiography in order to challenge the stereotype of the wheelchair-bound victim.

The book also ties in with the release this summer of a major film based on my life, also entitled Give Them Wings and starring Daniel Watson as yours truly and Toyah Wilcox as my mum. The film has already won ‘Best Feature’ at the London Independent Film Festival.

Meningitis left me physically disabled and with an acute speech impediment.

During my early years, not only did I have great difficulty in making myself understood, I was so uncoordinated that I had to be propped up against a wall with cushions, like Christy Brown in My Left Foot. Although I do have some movement in my legs, since the age of four I’ve been a wheelchair user.

Looking back over my life, I've had many battles, with determination, I’ve always overcome these and I’ve tried to have a smile on my face. I think that as long as people with disabilities, and indeed people in general, remember this, they won't go far wrong in life.

The 338 page paperback book can be ordered from Amazon.  Finally, here is the link to the trailer for the film (contains some strong language and violent scenes).

Many thanks for taking the time to read this.

Over to you:

  • Can you relate to Paul's experience of growing up with an impairment in the 1960/70's? Are the prejudicial attitudes something you've faced too?
  • What were your feelings after watching the trailer?
  • Do you have any words you'd like to pass onto Paul?
Please let us know in the comments below  :)
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Comments

  • Tori_Scope
    Tori_Scope Posts: 6,686

    Scope community team

    edited May 27
    Looking back over my life, I've had many battles, with determination, I’ve always overcome these and I’ve tried to have a smile on my face.

    I think we can all learn something from this.

    Thanks to Paul for sharing his experiences, and best of luck on the film!

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  • daz2
    daz2 Member, Community Co-Production Group, CP Network Posts: 43 Courageous
    edited June 4
    Hi, I was born in 73. I still remember hearing the words cripple & handicap when people spoke to me and my parents when I was about 4. I can remember the other children using those words everyday at school & the teachers trying unsuccessfully to stop them. Got worse in the 80's with Joey Deacon & Spastic. Does the film use disabled actors? 

  • littleacorn
    littleacorn Member Posts: 242 Pioneering
    I live not too far away from you and was also born with a disability in the 60's. I love to see local people achieve against the odds. I cant wait to read your book and see the film. When is it out and how can I see it? Was it difficult to get actors for your film? Hope the book covers some of your difficulties in making the film or is this going to be uour next book?
  • RichardLel
    RichardLel Member Posts: 48 Courageous
    Hi, I was born in 1970, I lived in Lancashire rochdale. I can remember schooling was really bad, used to be bullied allot called a spastic humailted. In way they where right, but only later had my cp confirmed.  That up north disablity & learning difficulties seamed be on the side of failure as from old schooling system may be talking about relating larger group. I experienced extensive corporal punishment for it and sent to a dodgy reform school for being disabled which been subject to enquiry. I know that period of time allot around that area subject to schooling system that more about correctness, discipline with authority education. you are not alone on this the emotional harm done and not single group. Thank for when my family moved south of England escaped it for a special school. I am sorry can’t watch your trailer as too painful as ended up with ptsd, done my bit giving evidence back, trying not look back. Best wished @ take care Richard
  • hodgie1
    hodgie1 Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Hi many thanks for your kind words. They are very much appreciated!
  • hodgie1
    hodgie1 Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Littlecorn, the film is out in  September. In fairness, it was easy getting actors, the auditions were tough though
  • RobthePoet
    RobthePoet Member Posts: 4 Listener
    As a fellow pupil of Paul's so delighted at his success. Please read my blog on my school day experiences
    https://www.communitynavigatorservices.org/2021-02-25-its-a-sin-chapter-1
  • daz2
    daz2 Member, Community Co-Production Group, CP Network Posts: 43 Courageous
    edited June 20
    "My Left Foot director backs calls for actors to stop 'cripping up' and would cast disabled actor in Daniel Day-Lewis' role if film was made today | Ents & Arts News | Sky News" https://news.sky.com/story/my-left-foot-director-i-would-cast-disabled-actor-in-daniel-day-lewis-role-if-film-was-made-today-12336232
    Interesting article & I thought relevant to this conversation.
  • hodgie1
    hodgie1 Member Posts: 8 Listener
    In fairness, we did try to get a disabled actor to play me.  Unfortunately,, none were suitable.  I can honestly say, the best person got the role.
  • littleacorn
    littleacorn Member Posts: 242 Pioneering
    I suppose I would ask the same regarding Toyah Willcox paying a Teesisde role
  • daz2
    daz2 Member, Community Co-Production Group, CP Network Posts: 43 Courageous
    I thought it was interesting as I studied the history of non-disabled actors & actresses playing disabled characters in cinema in my dissertation for my MA. It's called Oscarbation or Oscarbaiting. Where a non-disabled actor plays a disabled character (preferably a real person) specifically to win an Oscar.
  • hodgie1
    hodgie1 Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Hi Littleacorn,  Toyah, played my mother who was from  Wakefield, Yorkshire.  Shes from Birmingham, but managed the accent really well
  • hodgie1
    hodgie1 Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Daz, that was the last thing on Daniel's mind,  
  • daz2
    daz2 Member, Community Co-Production Group, CP Network Posts: 43 Courageous
    edited June 20
    It was on Day-Lewis's mind but not on the Hollywood producer, the infamous Harvey Weinstein. The film was released in a cinema in Dublin. When it was being shown, unbeknown to the director Jim Sheridan, Weinstein was at the back watching. When the film finished, Weinstein approached & asked to buy the rights to distribute the film in the US. A deal was agreed and as Weinstein walked away he said "Come the Oscars, we'll be there". The film went down a storm in the US. This following bit is true urban myth.... according to a biography of Day-Lewis written several years later, Tom Cruise, who was nominated for playing the disabled anti-Vietnam War campaigner Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July, was so convinced he had already lost to Day-Lewis that Cruise apparently entered his hotel via the back door & refused to leave his room until the start of the ceremony. Studying the film was one of the main parts on my dissertation on the effect Oscar winning films have on non-disabled people's perception of disability. I spent 9 months watching & rewatching My Left Foot and studying everything I  could find written about the film. The other films were The Silence of the Lambs. Forrest Gump & Million Dollar Baby. 
  • Sandy_123
    Sandy_123 Member Posts: 2,205 Pioneering
    Wow really loved the trailer, can't wait to see more
  • hodgie1
    hodgie1 Member Posts: 8 Listener
    Many thanks Sandy
  • Sandy_123
    Sandy_123 Member Posts: 2,205 Pioneering
    @hodgie1 your very welcome, next time in in town I shall buy your book also 
  • hodgie1
    hodgie1 Member Posts: 8 Listener
  • RoyYerkes
    RoyYerkes Member Posts: 3 Listener
    edited July 1
    Love this post. we should learn from this post. I'm running an organization for disabled people Let me known 
    (Removed by moderator, advertising is not allowed on the community)

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