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Volunteer Dan bouncing back after oxygen starvation caused cerebral palsy

Dan Sweeney
Dan Sweeney

Dan Sweeney had a tough start in life.

Born in Doncaster and raised in Edlington, he was deprived of oxygen at birth, and suffered cerebral palsy.

As a result of his condition, school was tough for Dan, now aged 39.

It had affected the right hand side of his brain, due to damage to nerves. His left eye can only see outlines without detail, but his right eye has adapted to that.

He also had problems with his left hand, which could not carry a cup or a glass. As an adult it meant he has to drive an automatic car.

He also used a wheelchair a lot as a youngster, and was often in and out of operations because of problems he had walking.

Even to this day he wears special shoes.designed to make walking easier for him, after he had to have an operation to remove bones in his foot.

He has no movement in the foot, and later developed a curved spine, which caused him to lose an inch in height.

He said: "It was hard at infants school, but when I got to McAuley School, when I was older, I had a a good group of friends around me which helped a lot. I have that at home in Edlington too.

"Me being me I didn't let it get to me."

Dan went on to get a job and initially worked with his dad in his garage before moving on to work at Polypipe, in Edlington.

But in 2004, his life took a turn for the worse after he suffered a fall at work.

He said: "I remember at the time my son was three months old, and I had to pack my job in at that point because I was suffering migraines afterwards.

"I took a few years out to raise my son. But I started going down hill in terms of my mental health and got depressed. I didn't know what to do.

"I lost all confidence. I struggled event to pick up a phone.

"I felt unemployable because of all my hospital appointments. I had counselling and medication.

"I've had a rough time over the years.

"I've been brought up by a well respected family. I think my disability has held me back, but I've tried not to let it to.

"I had worked up from being a forklift truck drive to be a supervisor and I think I could have been a manager, if I'd not had to leave because of my health."

Dan's counsellor recommended he tried doing some voluntary work s part of his recovery. He suggested 10 hours a week, and Dan followed his advice.

Now he has been working as a volunteer in community support services at the Hill Top Centre in Edlington for two years, and believes it has transformed his life.

They offer help to people in a number of areas, from filling in online application forms to broader social support. Dan helps service users do that.

He said: "Being here has been great. I started doing community support service work and started to have the confidence to care and nurture the people who come here to us. I started to get my confidence back. It's been a rough ride but I'm in a good place now. I can do what I want with my hours and it does not affect my medical appointments.

"I've got a lot of life experience and I can often relate to what people have been through. I'm proud of what we achieve here."