Tag Archives: Dad

I wish my dad had been able to see changing attitudes towards disability

Recent words from RJ Mitte and Alex Brooker have had a huge impact on Andy Bundock, whose late father was disabled.

In this guest blog he praises them for how they’ve been speaking about disability, creating acceptance and understanding that he wishes had been there in his dad’s lifetime.

During the Channel 4 coverage of the Paralympics in Rio, Claire Balding had a number of guest presenters with her. One of her co-hosts managed to explain exactly what Cerebral Palsy was in about three sentences. He managed to sum it up in such an eloquent and easy to understand manner. It was only afterwards that I found out that his name was RJ Mitte (apologies, I never got in to Breaking Bad).

I noticed his slight speech slur, this man clearly had Cerebral Palsy. It was very similar to my late father’s. It completely took me by surprise and I burst in to tears. Quite an extreme reaction you might be thinking. Here’s why.

It saddens me that my dad never got to see this

My initial reaction was “Yes, finally. Someone explaining it! And, on the telly.” Perhaps people will start to understand. I wanted turn to my dad and say “Look dad” but he wasn’t there, it didn’t happen in his lifetime. This saddened me so much, to the point of tears.

Not only was someone taking the time to explain a disability, there were disabled people presenting prime time TV and being accepted for who they are. My dad never got to see this. There was also the added emotion of missing my father. Hearing RJ speak in a similar manner just tipped me over the edge.

I contacted Channel Four and asked them if that clip was available so that I could share it on social media. I really wanted to share it and have more people understand. Unfortunately it wasn’t. But then Alex Brooker’s emotional outburst on The Last Leg happened.

On an episode of The Last Leg, Alex Brooker’s emotional outburst to the audience and to us at home had so much impact. He totally smashed it out of the park. When he drew that emotional breath at the end of it and got a hug from Josh Widdicome my heart went out to him.

Thankfully, this clip was available and when I went to share it on social media, I was so glad to see that so many of my friends had already shared it.

Alex did so much to make people understand what it is to be a disabled person that night. Only with more understanding can we move on together and gain more acceptance of people’s abilities as well as their disabilities.

My parents faced discrimination and ridicule

I grew up in a time where there was little or no mainstream understanding of cerebral palsy – what it was, how it affected people. Both of my parents have / had mild forms of the condition and were on the receiving end of discrimination and ridicule.

They were ‘advised’ not to have children, and it was nothing to do with their ability to conceive. Those bits and pieces were all working just fine. Their ability to raise a child was brought in to question. They also were asked to leave restaurants as they ‘were upsetting other diners’.

But my father was a real fighter. He stuck two fingers up at the world and said ‘I’ll show you’ every single day of this life. He said, I can make one of those and mine will be better.

The lack of understanding affected me too

A lack of understanding breeds fear, particularly in kids of school age so I was a target. I got in to fights and subsequently detention simply for protecting myself and my parents from nasty name calling and ridicule.

This upset me even more, the injustice of it all. I didn’t know how to handle it; I was a teenager struggling to deal with hormones, puberty and spots. But where was the protection from the school? I would very much like to think that this kind of behaviour is not tolerated in schools any more.

Andy's dad holding him as a toddler

My father was a brilliant dad

My father told me he was proud of me every day. He was a brilliant dad and I am so proud of his achievements as a father and as a person. He was an amazing photographer and inspired me to go into graphic design as a career. I got pretty good at it too, all down to his influence.

Alex Brooker mentioned his concern about how he would hold his baby should he and he wife be blessed with a child. This photo of my dad holding me was taken in about 1970. It is the only photo I have of the two of us – he was always the other side of the camera. You can’t keep a good man down, even when they are told that parenting probably wasn’t for them.

If you have a story you would like to share, get in touch with the Stories team.

The best thing about being a disabled dad or dad to a disabled child?

We put a shout out on our online community and social media, to find out what the best things about being a disabled dad or dad to a disabled child are. You didn’t disappoint.

Happy Father’s Day to all you legends! 

Dad sitting ont he soaf with his young son, who has Down's syndrome. They are reading a book together.

Hughie on Facebook: “I have an inspirational 11 year old boy who faces daily challenges but always has a smile on his face. He never lets his disability stop him from having fun and reaching his goals. He’s also supported by his little brother who is just amazing with him. Proud to be their dad. You are both amazing and love you all the world.”

Zec on our community: “My daughters are now 21 and 23 but I’m gramps to Oscar who’s 20 months old. Since he could sit up he’s loved sitting on my lap in the wheelchair. People seem fascinated when we go round the supermarket with him sat on my lap. Now he tries to push me in the wheelchair and he moves it.

The best thing is that he doesn’t bat an eyelid at me in a wheelchair, to him it’s just what gramps does and why wouldn’t he.”

Dad smiling and looking at his daughter who is sitting on his lap, who is making a funny face. She has Down's syndrome.Charlimaisdad on our community: “The best thing about being a dad to Charli-Mai is seeing her achieve milestones, and to see how much she gets out of life.”

FoodFatigue on our community: “For me it’s raising and seeing that my daughter doesn’t bat an eyelid when seeing other people with disabilities. She’s developed a great empathy and it’s great to see.”

Guy on Facebook: “I have had the wonderful privilege of easing and shaping the difficult life of an amazingly inspirational young woman, and it’s such a pleasure to see her flourish now!”

Speedincaesar on our community: “I love being a dad! Watching my daughter grow unfazed by differences. I love the conversations we have. Being a dad in a wheelchair has also given me the opportunity to meet other families with kids that may not have ever met a disabled person before.”

Martin on our community: “Being a dad is the one thing I’m most proud to be in my life.  Having a child with disabilities just amplifies that honour and pride. The two younger children get our eldest involved in everything they do, they see when doors need to be opened and recognise places his wheelchair won’t fit.

Two brother sitting togather at a football match, the youngest sitting on the lap of his older disabled brotherAn amazing moment for me was at a football match recently.  I campaign for better access to stadiums, and one of the things I asked for is accessible family seating so that families can enjoy a game sitting together. In our life it’s often our eldest getting looked after by his younger brothers, but at a football match I took this picture, where clearly big brother, is looking after the youngest.  Had a lump in my throat when taking this, and still do when I see it. It’s pictures like this that make being a dad the best thing in the world. Of course it may be Father’s Day on Sunday,  but I couldn’t be half the dad I am without the support of my wife, and their mum. Like football, being a dad or a mum to me is a team thing.  And when we’re on form, we make one hell of a team.”

We’d love to hear your reasons too. Tell us in the comments below.