“I am honoured to be the Essex representative for the DGA. I love being part of an organisation that has inclusiveness, choice and control at its heart”.
Paul has worked as a Public Servant since July 2002. In December 2000, aged 42, Paul had a successful roofing business and was a keen sportsman. After mildly grazing his knee while scuba diving he unknowingly knelt in contaminated water on a flat roof at work with devastating consequences.
Unknown to Paul, he had contracted necrotising fasciitis (“NF”, a flesh-eating bug) and although he felt unwell for a week afterwards he put it down to a virus. It was only when a friend persuaded him to go to the hospital that NF was diagnosed. The infection was spreading fast and surgeons had no option but to amputate Paul’s right leg eight inches above the knee; he spent ten days in a coma fighting for his life and months in rehabilitation before being discharged.
Now aged 56, Paul says his life changed beyond recognition “The fact that I nearly died, I was given the last rites on a life support system and not many people come back from that. Initially it was a hard process coming to terms with what had happened, although I am so lucky and grateful to be alive.
I knew I had to adapt to a new way of life, and although I could have carried on in construction I decided to re-train. I spent the first two years of my rehabilitation in college and ended up doing a Post Graduate Degree at Anglia Ruskin University, in disability civil rights. Before becoming disabled I had never given a thought to how inaccessible the buildings I helped create actually were. As a fit white male I had never faced discrimination; it was only when my mobility was taken away from me that I realised how many changes had to be made. I could not believe that in the country that I lived, buildings were constructed not to include disabled people. That is why I retrained as an Access Consultant, promoting inclusive design.
I was pestered at work by a chap who ran a golf society. I had just given up playing amputee football, so I thought I’d give golf ago. That was 6 years ago. Now playing with the DGA, I am enjoying the sport so much it has become my passion. I’m playing off 19 at the moment but should be able to get below that. The DGA has helped me focus on my abilities; I now want to help create a centre for disabled golfers at my club Rivenhall Golf Centre.”
Paul Houghton, Essex
“The Disabled Golf Association has given my husband Steve his life back, after a massive brain haemorrhage and stroke 18 months ago. He is now full of determination to get back to his beloved golf and play to the best of his abilities. Sue and Graeme are doing such a fantastic job!”
Jenny Lawrence, Rugby
I was a keen golfer in my youth, I started playing when I was 11 years old and got down to a handicap of 13. I also played football, cricket, tennis and other ball sports.
At the age of 35, I was having issues with my balance and was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. I have always been positive about my life, but thought my golfing days were over.
I went to the gym, swam and played disabled sport from a wheelchair – but I missed playing golf. I heard about the inaugural Disabled Golf Association event in Surrey and despite the rain I realized there were like-minded people out there and I could start playing golf again.
My condition has deteriorated over the years, but have found a way of playing golf and not falling over too often – when I do fall is with a laugh (I used to be a goalkeeper), the falling over is not the issue – it’s getting up!
Through my role as National Events Co-ordinator, I’ve met some inspiring people, increased my circle of friends and been fortunate to Captain England in games versus Scotland and Wales (albeit non-playing!). I am a firm believer that playing golf can stimulate neural pathways, aid therapy/rehabilitation and socalization/ My wife, Sue says that im a much happier person and look forward to the challenge of getting round a golf course, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Graeme Robertson, Berkshire