Disability Voices

Counsell, Alan (Part 1 of 13) Speaking for ourselves: an oral history of people with cerebral palsy

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  • Subjects

    Cerebral Palsy

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  • Interviewees

    Counsell, Alan, 1937- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Thomas, Dean (speaker,male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 (Tape 1 Side A): Born in Blackburn in Lancashire in 1937 as one of six children. Memories of being fed and carried by his brothers and sister. Sister Olive, 12 years older, was his carer; two younger and two older brothers. Father a fourth-generation crumpet baker in family business. Alan’s mother and grandfather also worked in the bakehouse, and the whole family had individual bakehouse chores. Alan’s job to wash batter-mixing mugs. Supportive family and neighbours. Alan’s mother fell down the stairs when seven months pregnant with Alan. Difficult birth - resuscitated three times in first 24 hours. Dr Cowell suspected brain damage, but didn’t say anything. Alan and his family did not know he had cerebral palsy until he was 18. At 5, Alan was not allowed to go to the same school as his brothers and sisters. School inspector’s visit led to Alan being admitted to his local mainstream school. Alan’s nine-year old brother Joe would carry him to and from school every day. At 7, Alan’s family kept him away from school for 18 months after special school was suggested. Alan’s grandmother paid for a lawyer at tribunal to prove Alan was of “above average intelligence and of sane mind”. Doctor suggested Alan’s right arm should be amputated, which his parents opposed. Playing in the street.

  • Description

    Interviewed for the project 'Speaking for ourselves: an oral history of people with cerebral palsy'; a project conducted by Scope in partnership with the British Library, financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund

  • Related transcripts

    Alan Counsell interviewed by Dean Thomas: full transcript of the interview (PDF)

  • Related links

    'Speaking For Ourselves' project website, including resources, information for schools and news

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