New home is just the start for Jonathan Brough, 24, who was left paralysed after contracting meningitis

by Katie Jarvis


LIFE is pretty exciting for 24-year-old Jonathan Brough.

He's just moved into his own home in Minchinhampton - a bungalow not far from the centre - and he's about to begin the second year of a media degree at Plymouth. He finished top of the class last year with a 'first'.


If you want to see some of his work, it's available on Youtube. Work such as the short film, An Uncertain Future.

Against a backdrop of sun-dappled woods, a young man struggles to understand a new world into which he suddenly finds himself catapulted: a world that's threatening, confusing, claustrophobic and, yet, intensely beautiful.
 

It's a thought-provoking metaphor for the new world in which Jonathan found himself five years ago, when meningitis robbed him of the ability to move from his neck down.

It's a world that must be threatening, confusing and claustrophobic. Yet it's a world given a rare beauty by the courage, positivity and intelligence of the young man who lives in it.
 

As we chat in his new home, the ventilator attached to his chest is a constant reminder of his paralysis.

But the enthusiasm and optimism of his conversation - despite speech being an effort - are those of any other young person embarking on the next stage of their lives.
 

"It feels really good to have my own place," he says.

"I've been waiting for ages for it to be ready. The garden is still being done and I need to decorate - make it homely with pictures and posters."


The property belongs to his grandmother, who has given it to Jonathan to use when he's home for the holidays.

"I'm glad to have a base in Minch. I've grown up here; it's home; it's beautiful," he says.


The next big mission is to raise money to convert it to Jonathan's specific needs.

Because he's at university, the bungalow is classified as a second home and ineligible for government grants, which is why fundraising events are vital - such as a gig in Minchinhampton's Market House on October 13 by the acoustic group MoMac'nMe.

But getting Jonathan's story out to the public isn't a one-way benefit.

Just as the Paralympics have helped to change views about disability, so talking to this inspiring lad shows that life - however challenging - is there to be faced and enjoyed.


A talented sportsman himself - he fell ill while training to be a ski instructor in Canada - he describes with enthusiasm the 'amazing' Paralympics opening ceremony he experienced first-hand.


Music is another joy: he's been to see his favourite bands, such as Coldplay, Stereophonics and is looking forward to seeing the Killers in November in Cardiff.

There are frustrations - venues don't always want to accommodate the two carers he needs with him at all times.

(Astonishingly, the Paralympics were guilty of this, meaning he didn't get to see any of the actual sports.)


And, like everyone else, he has ambitions.

"When I finish at uni, I'd like to get a job; but I'm also planning to write my autobiography when I get the chance," he says.

"Just because you're in a wheelchair doesn't make you different to any normal person."


Tickets for MoMac'nMe, an eclectic mix of Celtic music, cost £8 (including a glass of wine and nibbles) from M&B Stores, Minchinhampton.

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