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Janet and myself on our wedding day
18 May 1985 St. Johns Church
Clacton-on-Sea, Essex

From the years 7-15 I used to spend nearly all my time dingy sailing and racing. Here is a magazine advert I did when 14 years old.

Later interests were flying model aircraft and helicopters, playing various sports including water polo and weight training.

I gained seven 'O' levels whilst at Colbayns High School in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, a Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award and was Flight Sergeant of 308 Air Training Corps, Detached Flight.

The Royal Air Force had awarded me a Flying Scholarship whilst still at school and I spent two months at Southend Airport learning to fly light aircraft and in 1981 I obtained my Private Pilots Licence at 17 years of age

I always wanted to fly aircraft but I joined the RAF Military Police in June 1984 and In May 1985 I married a wonderful girl Janet. We had met at school and had been engaged since January 1983.

In 1986 I was posted overseas to Germany on what was to be a four year tour of duty.

On August 10th 1986 I broke my neck.

Diving into a shallow water lake I suffered a C3/4 complete spinal cord injury. I was flown by helicopter to a German hospital and after three weeks critically ill I returned to England. I was taken to intensive care at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore London, which also has a specialist spinal injuries unit. The accident had left me permanently paralysed with no movement in my arms or legs just a little in my neck so I could move my head.

I remained on a ventilating life support machine for six months and after fourteen months of learning to breathe, physiotherapy and general rehabilitation I was able to leave hospital. What I was to encounter on returning home was very different to my life in the Royal Air Force.

Whilst at the Spinal Unit I was encouraged to use computers both as a therapy and for a possible practical use when I returned home.

From never having used a computer, I spent about a year learning the fundamentals of computer operation, the hazards of setting up computer hardware, how to use software and its applications. I started to use my computer for many tasks.

With this new found technology and using my headset adapter I could write my own letters again, use electronic calculators, note books and many other computer based accessories to perform tasks that were otherwise impossible for me. All this was possible with the special headset I was using. My head movement was able to replicate the control of the mouse and a small puff switch to operate as a mouse click switch. With a special programme written to show an 'on screen' keyboard I could type words and sentences with relative ease.

The computer was more than just a helpful aid and it enabled me to stretch my new found abilities.

1991 I applied and gained a Prince’s Youth Business Trust award and started up a small business working from home as a freelance computer graphic designer and typesetter.

1994 I felt to pursue this career I should learn more about graphic design, especially typography which I enjoyed. I felt confident I could take some further study.

1998 graduated with a BA Degree in Art & Design at The Colchester Institute in Essex.

As part of my course work I completed my latest project with the Time & Tide Trust. A full livery design for the yacht entry in the BT Global Challenge. This had lasted almost seven months, and of course all my work was carried out on computer with just head movement.

After completing my degree course I now hope to continue with my computer work and using my somewhat unique position of being a severely disabled person but also active in the field of computer graphic design I hope to further enhance and contribute to areas where disabled people can overcome physical disabilities through the use of computer technology.

My family have been a great support. Friends have always been there. Yet my wife has to take much credit for what I have achieved. Through all I have faced Janet has been there, helping, caring and just being a wonderful wife.

 


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