BLOG by Kevin Marriott: My disabled brother is one of the happiest human beings I know
"HE will never walk, he will never talk. And he'll probably end up a vegetable."
Those were the first words delivered to my parents by a specialist after their second son – my brother – had been brain-damaged at birth.
Given that verdict on their one-day-old baby, my parents were asked whether they wanted to end my brother's life, suggesting it would probably be for the best.
This was the late 1950s and it has always been my belief that things have improved beyond recognition since those days; that parents would never be put under that sort of pressure.
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So last week's revelations about the comments of a local councillor in Cornwall that 'disabled children cost the council too much and should be put down' sent a shiver through my body.
This is the 21st century – yet there are people in this country who still think the way this councillor did.
Only the fantastic response from the good people of Cornwall prevented me from having sleepless nights.
This newspaper's website had a huge feedback, overwhelmingly criticising the comments, and Laurence Reed said he had never known one subject conjure such feeling and response among his phone-in audience on BBC Radio Cornwall.
To all of those who were prepared to stand up and be counted in support of the disabled, my heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you.
People say there is never any good news in newspapers. Well, let me give you some.
My brother is alive and well in Cornwall; he has learning disabilities, yes, but he can walk, he can talk (boy, can he talk), and he will be celebrating his 54th birthday next month. With his wife.
Yes, his wife. Nine years ago he married a Down's syndrome woman, and they live happily in sheltered accommodation, generally enjoying their independence.
As a family, we still have to fight for their rights, each and every week of the year; local authorities and care teams provide a certain level of service, but nothing like as good as you would want a loved one to receive.
It is nothing new for us to have to push authorities to provide the service they should be doing. It's exhausting at times but after 50-plus years, you get used to it.
My brother has been through more in his lifetime than many of us could ever imagine, and it seemed grossly unfair when he was hit by cancer not once, but twice; and still receives regular check-ups at Treliske.
But I'll tell you this: he is one of the happiest human beings I have ever met, and he puts many 'normal' people to shame.
He has brought great joy to our family; I am privileged and proud, never ashamed, to say he is my brother. I was 18 months old when he was born, and we have grown up together. I used to walk him to school in the early years, and we were regularly spat on by older pupils because of what he looked like. I was only 5, but I've never forgotten.
My dear mum and dad had to fight for everything when he was going through his school years, to get him the education he deserved. But get it they did, and look at him now.
He can read better and faster than most of us, he can use a computer with assistance, and he can certainly find the sports news on his television.
He loves his football, always has done. He's still a season ticket holder at Nottingham Forest, like me, and we sit together in the stand. He shouts with the best of them, and a defeat hurts him as much as anybody else.
I take him and his wife out for shopping and lunch once a week, and I am proud to do so. They are a lovely, joyful couple, and the welcome they get everywhere we go is heart-warming.
Who would want to deprive them of such happiness?
Disabled people have a part to play in our society, and they always will. They bring real joy to many, many lives.
It's some of the so-called 'normal' people I worry about.