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Cerebral palsy mum's novel way to beat prejudice
A SINGLE mum with cerebral palsy has turned her experiences of disability into a novel for teens.
Phillipa Vincent-Connolly’s debut Miracle, which is set in her hometown of Wimborne, will be released on April 5.
However, independent Wimborne bookseller Gullivers will be the first to start selling the novel before the official date.
Phillipa, 43, who lives with her two young sons in Broadstone, said: “I went to school at QE many years ago, and I decided to set the book there.
“A number of Wimborne locations are used for settings in the book, including Badbury Rings and the Square, so it’s very important to the story.”
The novel, published by Pen Press Publications in Brighton, tells the story of Wimborne Upper School student Orianna Stewart, 17, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
“I shouldn’t technically be here because of my cerebral palsy,” said Phillipa.
“Forty-three years ago, medicine wasn’t what it is now, and I was born at 26 weeks.
“I died about 10 times when I was born, and I didn’t walk until I was six.
“Having grown up in Wimborne with this, there was a lot of prejudice about disabilities.
“Even now I’ll have kids staring at me down the street.”
However, Phillipa didn’t let the condition hold her back, and she is now a trainee teacher working part-time at Canford School.
“When people stare, sometimes I’ll just blink it off, but other times I’ll turn around and actually tell them why I’m walking funny,” she said.
“It’s the same with teaching. There will be some kids who make snide comments, but then I’ll end up with the naughtiest boys in the school opening doors for me and that’s really great.”
Phillipa has already had some celebrity support, with Jonathan Ross’s wife, screenwriter Jane Goldman, writing a card in support, and historical writer Alison Weir even reviewing the book.
She said: “I feel very privileged that such a great writer has taken the time out to look at my first novel.
“It’s really exciting. The inspiration behind the book was to help change young adults’ conceptions of people with disabilities.
“I hope it will help teenagers to change their preconceived ideas about disabled people.”