Meningitis Now staff member David Clifford

Jonathan - An inspiration to us all

David Clifford | 26th December 2022

Jonathan has never let life, after-effects or anything else prevent him from enjoying a full and busy life. He was left paralyzed following meningitis in 2007, and has just written and produced a song and accompanying video; 'Six Months' which describes his feelings at that time. He tells the story here in his own words

Jonathan - An inspiriation to us all

"Before my injury I was a extremely active, I barely stopped to sit down, activities that I took part in included skiing (slalom racing) running on roads and track, cycling everywhere, rock climbing, cooking, playing football, badminton, throwing a diábolo in the air as high as I possibly could before catching it, with my arms outstretched in the sky above me, I even enjoyed racing go carts, driving my dads Dellow in car trials and auto tests. I was house captain at my local primary school and the ski instructor captain for the ski team at my secondary school; Marley grammar.

"In February 2007 I was 18 and flew to Canada to train as a ski instructor on snow. I had just got my A level results meaning that I had an offer at my first choice, Swansea University to study Marine Biology. I’d been teaching as a ski instructor on my gap year at Gloucester dry slopes whilst also working as a kitchen assistant at the Woolpack, the local pub in Stroud, Gloucestershire to raise money for the trip. Going back to Canada, the course was incredible, I loved every second of it the snow skool motive was ‘best days of your life’ which definitely fitted. I have no regrets at all, the last thing I remember was finishing the day early and going back down from the slopes and feeling rubbish I’d been sick several times and I just knew that something wasn't right. 

Life changed

"The next day I woke up lying flat on my back in a hospital bed staring at the ceiling, with nurses surrounding me, I was petrified……what was going on…….. I then spent six months where I couldn’t speak at all, at first all I could do was blink, once for yes and twice for no. I was flown in an air ambulance from Calgary to Bristol following this I was transported by ambulance to Gloucester Royal Hospital stayed there in intensive care where I spent several months, next I was taken by another ambulance to Salisbury spinal unit for rehabilitation, and it was here that I finally got my voice back again.

A new and active life

"Following my injury I am now paralysed from the neck down, wheelchair bound and fully reliant on a ventilator 24/7 to breathe for me. I graduated from Plymouth university with first class honours to study media arts in 2014. I have have been on several holidays in my chair, including a trip to the titanic studio in Belfast to see the filming of the tv series Game of Throwns, I’ve also collaborated with imperial collage London. I was going to be a pilot at the 2015 cybathlon (the Paralympics with robotics and new technologies) this was until I was prevented from taking part because I had a pacemaker. I now play a sport called Boccia at national level, I study Spanish at collage and sing and beat box at open mic nights. I’ve also taken part in numerous 10k races in my chair (which I drive using a control in my mouth) During lockdown I drove my chair up and down hills in my local area to the equivalent altitude of going from sea level up to the summit of Mount Everest and back down again to raise funds for the NHS. 

"It’s not the disability that defines you but who you are and the way you approach life. 

"When life gets tough, pick yourself up, dust yourself down and go out fighting!"

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Watch the video for 'Six Months'