When I was a wee lad in 1952, I lived in Springburn, the Railway Capital of Scotland, amidst the stark dull and grey environs of smoke smitten buildings of the engines of empire, as Glasgow was then known as the second city of Empire.

On a sadly eventful day, a mother took her infant son to a local doctor to administer an injection with the honourable purpose of immunising her infant son from the Measles and Whooping cough.

That had an adverse effect on her infant son, who had to be rushed to a neurological hospital at Killearn. It was documented at that time as encephalitis because they had to bore a hole above my left ear and insert a tube to release fluid from the brain. If this had not been done, I would have died in infancy.

Throughout my life, I have faced challenges. Mountains to climb, some surmountable, others insurmountable. 

Parents have a huge impact on a child’s life in either a positive or negative way.

One thing we often forget is that our parents were children themselves, and that we are socially constructed by differing facets: enviro – cultural, community, peers, and, of course, family. These can affect us more than we may ever know or think. Some people are clones, whereas others are regarded as ubiquitous and unique, to coin the phrase.

First problem: I could not do a trade in the practical sense, because I was termed as ‘ham-fisted’ etc.

I could know ideas in my head but could not put them into practice. Later on, I learned how to be part of a team and I became ‘Mr Ideas Man’.

Second problem: I was too easily taken in. One thing happened when I was duped into signing a credit card and, as a result, I phoned the Encephalitis Society, taking up time that I am sure Jon, the support coordinator, could have spent better. But he was kind and advised me to see a lawyer. Eventually the alleged amount I had accrued was written off. 

Third problem: Emotionally, it has been difficult for me all my life. What I try to do is have a sense of feeling useful which is why I try do a lot of community work. 

If any parents are reading this, with years of reflecting and looking back on my experience - I would say that the journey is hard for all of us. But there is always hope - please give encouragement to your son or daughter as you never know where it may lead.

I astonished people by graduating from Glasgow University in 1993. This was hailed as a marvellous achievement, considering the challenges and barriers I had to face.

I was the most improved student with special needs. My father, an amputee, actually came to my graduation and said to me quietly: “You will make a minister yet.”

Unfortunately, I have mental health issues that barred me from the Ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ.

More recently, I started serving on the Social Security Scotland panel core group, which involved the writing of a radical social security charter for the people of Scotland. 

I am also on the people’s policy participation panel for social care with Inclusion Scotland. I was one of the longest serving community councillors on the Larbert Stenhousemuir and Torwood Community Council in the Falkirk area and, in 2014, I was a baton bearer for Her Majesty the Queen.

As a person with an acquired brain injury, there is life because I have lived that all my life. I tried to be a joiner, soldier, cleric, all to no avail. However, I was a successful community councillor, Co-operative committee member, creator of radio programs on the Classical and Scottish genres. Moreover, I am a motivational speaker who can inspire you, because as individuals we often cannot win, but together we will win and to reach the winning post triumphantly.


*Denis is also a singer under the pseudonym Beloved Caruso. Listen to him on SoundCloud