Mahler, Jill (Part 1 of 6). Speaking for ourselves: an oral history of people with cerebral palsy
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Mahler, Jill (speaker, female)
Geary, Sue (speaker, female)
Part 1 (Tape 1 Side A): Jill was born with cerebral palsy, the first of two children, and lived near London. No Grandparents. At age 4½, went to a local mainstream, private “Dame” school. Aged 8½, Jill went to a boarding school for children with speech problems. School created by Mrs Hudson-Smith in Hurst Green, Surrey. Jill was in a class of 12 (10 boys, 2 girls). Playing football and climbing trees. Speech therapy. Mother’s fight for LEA support for boarding school fees in Kent. Education Act. Bullying. School matron’s attitude. Problems with maths. O-levels and A-levels. Vocational advice to be a librarian or a social worker. Jill wanted to be a doctor. Her hero was American Dr Carson, who had cp. Trinity College, Dublin to study social work. Jill had a placement in a hospital and in a school for children with cerebral palsy. The Institute of Almoners. Occupational Therapy. Became a social worker in County Fermanagh in rural Northern Ireland dealing with delinquency, adoption, fostering. Boat trips. Local hospital was the old workhouse. Means test paperwork. Bridges were sometimes blown up. Jill’s colleagues including a former policeman and a relieving officer. Jill was born in Croydon in wartime. Evacuated to Grandmother’s house in Plymouth. Jill’s father was in ARP in London fighting incendiary fires. Moved back to Croydon, after her grandmother’s house in Plymouth was bombed, killing her grandmother. Jill’s sister was born when Jill was about 4 ½. Jill remembers being looked after by an aunt when her mother was in hospital. Aunt disliked Jill because she was “not normal”. Jill’s love of horses. Father spoilt her. Diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Great Ormond Street Hospital for removal of tonsils aged 5. Jill’s swallowing difficulty and speech impairment. Mother’s memory of Jill’s birth. Jill came back from Israel to the UK in 1985. Acknowledgement of disability. Jill’s relationship with her sister.
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