George Brogan discovers archery

Stoke Mandeville one part of the occupational therapy was archery; it had taken place in the main hall. You had to attend there as well as part of your task. I think it was to help to build up your arms pulling the string back. But it also got me interested in archery and when I got home I joined a disabled club and did archery there, and travelled all over the country to different disabled clubs, and became friends with people all over the country. So the archery was a big help to me; it gave me a new lease of life when I left hospital.

I used to go down the local Miners’ Welfare Social Club; then I helped set up the Wansbeck District Disabled Sports Club at Newbiggin by the Sea. We used to run our own disabled games there. Each summer we would take over the school across the road. People would come from all over; we would beds in some of the classrooms. And on the Friday night of the games in the big hall we would a long table right down the centre of the room and have home-cooked stuff for tea; this was in the 1970s and 1980s.

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George Brogan on learning to walk

They put full callipers on me and then I had to lift myself up on to these bars, just like the lad in the photo; once you mastered that you were given crutches, and then the fun began. I was 6ft 2ins and they didn’t have any crutches long enough for me. They had them in the last hole but they were still too short, so it was very awkward for me, bent over like an old man.  I was like a tree in a strong wind swaying back and forth, but I got walking on them.

Patient learning to walk using the support of wooden beams

A patient learning how to walk using wooden bars following a spinal injury. Image©NSIC