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I am writing a book, publication date Spring 2018.

My book is a story of real triumph over adversity, and my hope is that by reading it, you will immediately receive the reassurance you need that you too can find a way through the tough times. I hit rock bottom, and wanted to end it all, but I didn’t. So if you are struggling, let my words be of comfort to you. I got through, and you will too.

You will find out about where I’m from, where I’ve been and how I got to where I am today. You will hear all about me, not for my own sake, but in order to shine a light in the darkness. In my case, it was the life-changing diagnosis of HIV and AIDS. It had a profound effect – not just on me, but on all those around me. It had a ripple effect. And by exploring these ripples, I want to show you that we really can all find our way home again, whatever the seemingly devastating outlook may be.

You will also hear about the experiences of others. Whatever situation you find yourself in, you are never alone, even when you think you are. Each story is a beacon of hope for anyone who feels as though they have nowhere to turn. Particularly those who are living with HIV/AIDS and the people who care for them. For too long – and still – HIV/AIDS is highly stigmatised, and there is a need for those of us who are able, to stand up and be counted.

As you weave your way in and out of each tale, let them encourage and inspire you and I’d love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments section all about your journey, and we will stand together.

Pull up a chair and join me as I share my words.

Let’s begin where it all started – Accrington.

It wasn’t the most typical of starts for the region, as my mother, Claudie, was a glamorous Parisian. She had swapped her life in the ‘City of light’ for this industrial smog of a town in the north. Why? Because her heart belonged very much to my father, a trainee civil engineer she had met on a pleasure cruise on the Thames. Following her heart, she renounced her nationality and strict catholic upbringing in order to make Accrington her new home. By all accounts it was a passionate and loving relationship, and she threw herself successfully into a busy and social Accrington life. Her childhood had been difficult. She was 14 when war was declared, and her family suffered many deprivations, as countless did. In the immediate post-war years she was diagnosed with severe depression and subjected to electro-shock treatment, though we never knew it. I only found out after she died, and I was saddened, but not surprised. She never spoke about it.

My father, Peter, was a quiet and shy man from Stockport, immediately bowled over by the French beauty that my Mother was. As a father, he was rather Victorian. Not draconian or unkind or overbearing; he was simply somewhat distant and unemotional, like a lot of fathers of that era. Their fathers and grandfathers had been the same and they saw no reason to change the status quo. He was made redundant when I was about 11 and again a few years later, and although he picked up other jobs, the demise of heavy engineering in the north of England meant that joblessness was always a threat. Father’s way of coping was to internalise everything and he was a heavy smoker, too. Sadly, the writing was on the wall for him and he died of a massive heart attack when I was at University. Among his possessions we found painkillers and a little bottle of whiskey, so he was obviously fighting the pain – and typically in silence.

My brother, Philip, arrived first, in 1957, and I arrived two and a half years later, in 1959. We had a relatively uneventful childhood. While other families in our street were large, noisy and extended, ours was small and quiet. I was quite the petite child and trundled on through childhood, enjoying music and languages and detesting sport and anything competitive. I did once join the Boy Scouts, but only because I rather admired the neckerchief and woggle they wore. Once I’d obtained that, I left.

‘Ah!’ you might say, ‘hates sport, likes classical music, has an eye for fashion. I think I know where this is heading.’

Well, you might do, but I certainly didn’t, not even when my father returned from a business trip to Italy and brought my brother and me an Action Man each. These were much coveted because at the time they weren’t on sale in the UK. Philip immediately took his off to play war, while I made a collection of nice little outfits for mine. Today, more enlightened parents might understand what was going on with their sensitive son but in those days being gay wasn’t something one bandied around in public, least of all in Accrington.

But, I wasn’t the only ‘gay in the village’.

Why not hear about my dramatic tale of coming back from the brink in person? It could be just the inspiration your employees or organisation needs. Click here to find out more and email me or call me on 07752 518 925 for a chat.

One Comment

  • Howard Roae says:

    Hi Roland,

    Cool stuff, put me down for one. I collect signed book as a but of a hobby, not much of one as I only have 6-7 and often know the author. Local history, or as in your case, life adventure. Let me know how i can Purchase one and how t get you to sign it.

    Good luck with Luminate.
    Howard Rose (DPG)

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