Paul Harris

Hello! My name is Paul Harris and I'm the Chairman of the charity Computers For The Disabled. This is my short biography.

I was born in the Commercial Road, Stepney, East London in 1950 and we moved a few miles to Forest Gate E.7 when I was young. I was brought up in a very poor deprived background and Mum and Dad had nothing, just like most of the East End people back in the early 50s, well it was a just few years after the war. I went to Monega Road Infants School then to Forest Gate Whitehall school from 1961 to 1965.

I met my wife Karen in the very early 80's, it was time to settle down. I married in August 1982 in Stratford registry office. we went to the continent for a long honeymoon.

But life had a terrible surprise in store for me.

In 1990 when I was just 40 years old I suffered a stroke that left me with hardly any use of my left hand and leg and my speech was impaired. I needed a long stay in Orsett Stroke Unit in Essex and I was in a wheelchair for a long while and was unable to enjoy life as it was with my family. I had three beautiful small children at that time, 6 years, 4 years and a baby of only 9 Months old.

I thought my life was over. We moved house and area because our house was not manageable in Abbey Lane, Stratford E.15 and of course by then the east end was finished as a real community. We finally moved to a village called Noak Bridge in Essex which is on the border of Billericay. I spent a long while making a recovery and have now recovered about 85%. When I first suffered my Stroke my moods were moods of anger, my temper was of frustration, my marriage was in a disaster zone and my thoughts of suicide were very high and very real. All I kept saying was "Why Me", Was this the end of Paul Harris?

After months of depression anxiety and thoughts of suicide I contacted D.I.A.L, a disabled UK help group who help and advise the disabled and they convinced me to find something to occupy my days. It was suggested that I try my hand at computers. I laughed under my breath at the thought. After some months of persuading, D.I.A.L got me a place at a learning centre and I took up the challenge. Since the day I first enrolled in the Centre my life changed. I found an outlet for my aggression and depression and I started to enjoy what I was doing. I was learning computers and meeting lovely people with similar disabilities. After some time I built some small low spec PC's for disabled friends I had met. I then built for local disabled groups free from any profit. No matter what life throws at me I still ensure that I help the disabled, those on a low income & the elderly.

I went on to further courses to get more knowledge, passing different exams and gaining huge amounts of PC know how. As time went by I contacted the Voluntary services sector and they suggested I should apply for Charity Status as they felt I was doing a wonderful job and offering a wonderful service. Jill Martin and Chris Watson of the CVS and myself had a meeting to get thing started. Mr Peter Woods a retired Bank Manager offered to do the accounts and books. We had many people wanting to enjoy the challenge and to help us get started. We filled in the Charity paper work for Charity Status and we were told it would be around 5/6 Months before we got a reply. In only 6 weeks we had the good news and became a Government Registered Charity.

In 2004 I was rushed into Basildon hospital Essex as my intestines pushed through my stomach wall. I was then transferred to Homerton Hospital in Hackney where I underwent major stomach surgery. When I got home I had district nurses in daily to attend to my massive stomach wounds that for some unknown reason were not healing up. After many swab and blood tests I was diagnosed with the wonderful disease known as MRSA. For 10 Months I suffered my wounds not healing, having a drain bottle inserted through my stomach draining of the disease. I had to sleep eat and live with this bottle strapped to my body for 10 Months having district nurses in twice a day. This disease wasn't going to finish me. After 10 months the MRSA subsided and the stomach tube and draining bottle taken out and I was free of this terrible disease. I now in July 2009 have been diagnosed with a non curable muscle and nerve wasting disease called peripheral neuropathy and this is not going to beat me either.

I also had major prostate problems & I have had my prostate removed in 2015, my cancer tests are still all clear and this has not stopped me helping to give people a better life.

I have also got COPD and sleep in a mask on a machine & this still hasn’t stopped me working 7 days a week at times. I’ve got kidney problems, bronchitis for life, I am on many steroid and still keep going. I’ve developed sleep apnoea & have to use a breathing machine at night. I have still got 2 more hospital operations in 2018.

I am going to fight any illness that is thrown at me because I have my wife, grown up children, grandchildren and there are many disabled kids around the country that need my help and all this keeps me very strong and keeps me going and I am not going to be beaten by illness.

It's a truly fantastic feeling being the Chairman of a Charity. I have a great team around me helping people across the UK. We all pull together to help keep our fantastic organisation running smoothly. I have met some fantastic people in the last 25 years from film and TV soap stars from people from the sporting world but the most fantastic and brave people I meet are the disabled people themselves especially kids and its these great people I respect the most and I give to them well over 90 hours of my time every week and I love it. I can't explain in words the pleasure it gives me.

My wife Karen is the "fetch and carry lady" she is the backbone of our Charity. She does normal woman's duties like washing, ironing cleaning, cooking and caring and a million other jobs but she still finds many hours a week for our Charity. My wife also finds 3 evenings a week as she is the secretary of Berry Boys amateur boxing club as this we hope will keep many boys from roaming the streets and it might just stop most of the boys turning out like I was. It's worked for my boys. My wife works harder than I and when I'm struggling to find funds. We do PCs together for free to all disabled people and into the late nights sometimes until 2 in the morning and this gives us both great pleasure in making other disabled people happy.

I am passionate about helping people with disabilities & elderly people.

I’ve got 5 grandchildren a lovely wife & 3 grown up kids. I am in constant pain but this don’t stop me doing what I love & that’s being chairman of a wonderful charity, taking no wages or rewards, it is a major part of my life.

We work from our hearts, not for our pockets. If you wish to talk to me to find out more, or you have any questions, give myself or my wife a call, we will be happy to answer any queries. If you would like to write to me or email me the address to write to is on the website...

Paul Harris