THE life of a man who was left unable to speak and control his limbs from a baby has been captured in an eye-opening book that tackles myths surrounding disabilities.

Stephen Gallagher, who lives in Golborne, suffered a common childhood condition aged six months but sadly this progressed into a virus which cause an inflammation of the brain.

He went into a coma and when he came round it was discovered he suffered spasticity in his limbs and was unable to speak.

Without the aid of a communicator device until the age of 16, many presumed he had a learning disability.

But Stephen, 57, who can only type with one finger, did not let his disability get in the way of having fun and he enjoyed success in the scouts.

At 16 he was presented with the prestigious Cornwell Scout Badge, an accolade handed out for bravery and strength of character.

He was the first scout in Wigan borough to receive the award.

Stephen said: "I was stunned but thrilled when the District Commissioner for Wigan Scout Council, Mr. T.E.B. Parkinson MBE, wrote to tell my parents that the Chief Scout, Sir William Gladstone had awarded me with the Cornwell Scout badge." 

After presenting the award, Mr Parkinson said: "We are all very proud of Stephen and conscious of the tremendous example which he has set for us all.

"The award is recognition of your own pluck and determination and bravery and is a great credit to your parents and to the scouts and leaders of the 12th Wigan (St Andrew’s) Scout Group."

Leigh Journal:

Stephen, centre, receiving his Cornwell Scout Badge

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After being inspired by film My Left Foot, a biography on disabled Irish writer and painter Christy Brown, who had cerebral palsy, Stephen went in search for someone to write about his life

And after meeting Stephen, Leigh writer Julie McKiernan, who has experience working with people with disabilities, decided to tell his story once she was commissioned by Healthy Arts, which received funding from the City Health Care Partnership Foundation.

Following hours of interviews, she penned a book of 10 chapters with each one dispelling a myth about disabilities and using examples from Stephen’s life.

Julie added: “I feel humble in seeing what Stephen has gone through in his life and how he has come through it.”

In the book Julie has encapsulated Stephen's warm personality along with his determination and patience. 

The writer spoke to his parents Joan and Tommy, sister Julie, a former teacher and went to a scouting reunion where friends from Stephen’s youth were present.

Stephen, who has a mischievous sense of humour, has labelled the story, which is set to be published as a book titled My Life in Their Hands, as “brilliant”.

Leigh Journal:

Stephen lives in Golborne

Leigh Journal:

The book cover for My Life in Their Hands

Stephen, who has an eclectic taste of music and is a big sports lover, lightheartedly said he would like to discuss the book on the Graham Norton Show.

Wigan-based Joolz Design professionally designed the book cover and the Rotary Club of Newton-le-Willows donated £200.

It has been copy read by Lowton writer CJ Harter.

To support the book’s publication email