“Put him in a home, forget about him and have another baby.” That's what the doctor told my parents when I was born with cerebral palsy. My disability has meant, throughout my life, I've been told I wouldn't be able to do things but I've always enjoyed proving people wrong.
Probably the most notable of these was learning to fly, resulting in me gaining my pilot's licence in August 2012, becoming the most disable pilot in the UK and possibly the world.
I then participated in Aerobility's Global Flight Simulator Challenge (GFSC), a successful attempt to break the world record for the longest duration simulated flight. Fellow participants on the same day included Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, who I first met in August 2010 when we were passengers on the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight; second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin; and his passenger, Chris Evans. This lead to Chris doing a great piece about me on the One Show.
Soon after this, in November 2012, I was awarded the Aviator of the Year sword, presented to me by Buzz at the Aviators' Ball.
My hope is all this will enable me to continue challenging people's perceptions, able-bodied or otherwise, of disabled people and what they can and can't do; show, contrary to what most media conveys, a disabled person's life isn't all about 'coping' with their disability. In fact, for most, it's a very small consideration next to all the usual factors involved in not just leading a 'normal' life but living it to the full. I'd also like to show that everyone in the world, not just disabled people, is in one minority group or another and it's okay to be different, no matter what that difference is.
Another passion of mine is adrenaline sports. Watching the series, Jack Osbourne: Adrenaline Junkie, there wasn't one thing he did which I wouldn't do. Even doing a 15,000ft tandem skydive didn't scare me. I began to think there was nothing I could do which would – until it came to doing my first solo flight, which, when it came to it, terrified me, the difference being, I was alone as opposed to having an expert in Charge. However, I found it thrilling pushing through my fear, which after a few more solo flights, became a healthy and necessary nervousness.
Over the past few years, I've also been writing my autobiography, which I hope will also help with all the aspirations mentioned earlier and show how it's felt for me to be one of those 'different' people.