Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Give Them Wings - the film and book of Paul's meningitis story

Andy Hopkinson | 14th May 2021

If you’re looking for a good read this summer you could do a lot worse than getting your hands on a copy of the recently published autobiography of meningitis survivor Paul Hodgson, entitled Give Them Wings

Give Them Wings - film and book of Paul H's meningitis story

Paul, from Darlington in County Durham, contracted meningitis as a baby more than 50 years ago. It affected his brain and spinal cord leaving him with cerebral-palsy like symptoms.

For most of his life Paul has been a wheelchair user and he’s written his autobiography to challenge the stereotype of the wheelchair-bound victim.

Release this summer

The book also ties in with the release this summer of the major film of Paul’s life, also entitled Give Them Wings and starring Daniel Watson as Paul and Toyah Willcox as his 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,” Paul said. 

“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 4 I’ve been a wheelchair user."

You can read more of Paul’s story here.

Far from a passive spectator

In his autobiography Paul recounts how, far from being a passive spectator, he struggled to care for his mother through several strokes and Alzheimer’s disease, and the rift this caused within his family. He also speaks of the Community Care system, his experiences of education and employment, and the loyalty of his friends.

It also includes his account of life as a fan of Darlington Football Clun, which reveals another side to his nature through its retelling of mishaps and drink-fuelled escapades, laced with his own brand of black humour.

Positivity shines through

Paul’s positivity shines through his story of fortitude in the face of severe odds and it offers a unique insight into what it means to be disabled in modern society.

He added: “Looking back over my life, I've had many battles, but I've always 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 or through good local bookshops.

You can watch a trailer for the forthcoming film here:

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