Craig Harrison | Wirral, UK
Positive Role Model (Disability)
I was born in 1978 10 weeks premature with several disabilities already showing. This was obviously a sign of things to come. So here is a little about me. I have had my left leg amputated through the knee in 1986 because it was deformed when I was born. I had had several operations on it every 2 years from birth to try and straighten it which meant 10 weeks in traction during recovery. I also have a double scoliosis, which means my back is curved and twisted in 2 places which has gotten worse over time and now causes me severe chronic pain and I have congenital hip displacia of both hips, meaning they can dislocate and relocate at any time. My right hip (I always thought was my good hip, apparently not anatomically according to Dr's) has made its own sudo joint and has grown into place, whereas my left comes in and out of its socket at least once or twice a day.
Throughout my life I have been a fighter and someone who pushed boundaries, I was one of the 1st group of disabled children to move into mainstream school in 1990. This was difficult and due to my disabilities the school had to be adapted, the timetable of classes was written around me and when it came time to choose my GCSE options I had to drop 1 so I could have free periods to catch up on work I missed due to the many hospital appointments I had to attend. I came away from secondary school with 4 D's and 5 E's in my exams, I was very proud of this after only 5 years in mainstream education.
After I left school I entered employment straight away doing a YTS scheme in Business Admin. I worked for a disability rights organisation where I helped with manning the front desk, typing letters for peoples disability appeals and other general office work. I found it very rewarding. I later moved into my 1st full time job at a solicitors, this proved maybe to be too much of a big step and after only a short time I had to leave because of my 1st encounter with depression.
After a while out of work and after joining a youth voluntary organisation Wirral Action and doing several of their voluntary placements, I was one of the 1st to join the Governments "New Deal" scheme where I gained subsidised employment at Wirral Action. I remained with them both on New Deal and subsequently in employment with them till they closed in 2001.
During this time I applied to go on the Raleigh International Millennium Award Scheme expedition to Namibia in October 1998. This was an amazing experience where I grew up and became a man. It was here while helping out wildlife and local communities I found I didn't always need my artificial leg to do things. When I came home I returned to my job and met my wife Helen, whom I married in 2000 after just 6 months of dating. We have now been married 19 years and have a lovely son Clayton who was born in 2009 after successful IVF treatment after it was found I couldn't have children naturally.
In September 2007 I joined 7 Waves Community Radio. There I became a volunteer with them presenting almost every show they had. In 2014 when the station rebranded to Wirral Radio I was lucky enough to be the 1st Drive Time presenter and also had the pleasure of broadcasting from The Open Championship at Hoylake which was the highlight of my broadcasting career.
In 2011 my mum passed away unexpectedly after a very short illness. She was a huge supporter and did everything she could so I could live as close to normal life as possible. This was a big loss to me and the family as a whole. In 2015 I lost my Nan who I spent time looking after her due to Alzheimer's which caused me more depression.
From around this time I started suffering with chronic pain in both my hips and back. This meant I had to give up work. Since then I have suffered with depression along with the other issues. I decided to try horse riding with the RDA in around 2015 and it was there that someone mentioned doing Para Dressage. Being of the competitive nature I decided to give it a go. I competed in my 1st competition in 2017 and qualified for my 1st National Championships. I did the same again in 2018 after being graded as a Grade 3 Para Dressage Rider. In 2018 my usual horse had to pull out of the regional show 5 days before due to illness, we made a substitute and still did enough to qualify for the Nationals for a 2nd year. I managed to get a PB and finished 6th in my main class but also I got a 3rd in my Freestyle to music class. I was blown away. The aim is to one day get to the Paralympics with the aim now towards 2024 Paris or 2028 Los Angeles.
I have also played Amputee and mixed disability football, representing England in Amputee and playing for and captaining my beloved Everton in mixed disability, making the 1st National finals.
Recently I have suffered with 1 health scare after another and just last week I was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer. This is just another battle I am determined to win. If you vote for me thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.