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All Together NOW! editor TOM DOWLING says he’s miraculously made himself 20 years younger … by giving himself a new Official Birthday! PICTURED BELOW: June 1974 and the van on the roadside in Iran where Tom was shot; and June 2001 and with his his family in June 2001

 

ONE of the good things about getting older is sometimes you get the chance to actually be more adventurous, to do something a bit out of the ordinary.

Well, I’ve just done it. Miraculously, with a quick stroke of a pen, I’ve made myself 20 years younger …

You see, I’ve never thought it fair that the monarchy could have “official” summertime birthdays to celebrate in the sunshine, while the rest of us who were born in the cold winter months, just had to get on with it.

King George II’s forward-thinking decision way back in the 18th century should have given all of us the same rights.

Well, whether it’s legal or not, I’ve now claimed mine – and gone further by changing my birth year.

My new Official Birthday is June 3, 1974 – the day my old life officially changed forever on a roadside in Iran. The day I became disabled and when my new life began.

At dawn that day, as a huge blood red sun crept up over the horizon, I began opening my 20-year-old eyes to the world. Seconds later, a bullet from a bandit’s gun blasted through my spine, instantly paralysing me from the chest.

Until that moment I knew nothing about the devastation and heartache that disability brings to millions of people – and not just for those directly in the “firing line”, so to speak.

As I soon discovered, disability affects your whole family and friendships. Nothing is the same – except the love and care that some of us may be lucky to go on to receive. From then on, it’s like starting afresh, finding out what is still possible, and what support you can get to achieve your new ambitions.

That’s what All Together NOW!  is all about – bringing people together to overcome all kinds of challenges and inequalities.

And that’s why we are so appreciative to those who keep this free newspaper alive and kicking – our key partners, the Steve Morgan Foundation and United Utilities, our other funders, and, of course, our advertisers.

Without all this generous and ongoing support, we just wouldn’t be around.

So, back to my Official Birthday … apart from getting a few extra birthday cards, do I really feel any benefits of being “younger” again? Definitely!

Chuck away the mirrors and I’m a new man, even though I still can’t stand or walk. The sinews and bones may still be creaking, but I’ve re-joined the gym, resurrected my old DaVinci handbike that’s getting me to places I never thought possible, and I’m now plucking up the courage to go swimming again.

Whatever your age, and health issues you may have, I really hope you can get out and about a bit and enjoy this special summer – it’s been a long time coming!

And if on your travels you see a venue you think might be a good stockist forAll Together NOW! please let us know! We want to spread our good messages far and wide – and help even more people.

Tel, 0151 230 0307

news@alltogethernow.org.uk