How my disability created friendships

A few weeks ago I shared a post with the pros and cons of living with my disability. The first and most important positive thing I mentioned was the friendships I’ve made over the years:

Getting to make lifelong friends through school, theatre groups and (The occasional brilliant) carers.

There are in fact five particular people who, without my disability, I would have never have met and we may have never become everlasting friends or enjoy spending quality time together. In this post, I want to share with you these 5 amazing people and how my disability brought me together with them.

Pluggy Wood

Emma & Pluggy 2013

Pluggy (real name Daniella) is my oldest friend with a friendship of 14 years. We met when we were 11 year olds at my first drama group, Helen O’Grady Children Drama Academy in Portchester. We attended the group for three years together then left when we were 14. I had moved to Treloar school but we managed to keep in regular contact by email and phone for the remainder of our school and college days and continued to be close friends ever since. What I love most about this friendship is that we have never fallen out and despite our distances and busy lifestyles, we still find the time to chat and meet up. Plus she is the only able-bodied friend who has stuck by me despite my disability. Before meeting her, I was living in Gosport but due to the fact I couldn’t attend the local mainstream secondary school, my family and I moved to Portchester to be at the school dedicated for disabled students in the area and where later I joined the local drama group and met Pluggy. Therefore without my disability, I would have never had to move schools and may have never joined the drama group or met Pluggy.

Lucy Hale

Emma & Lucy at Reading Festival 2014

Lucy was one of the first friendships I made when I began at Treloar School. We were roommates in our boarding houses for two years and had lots of fun together. The great thing was we both began at the school around the same time so we got to be newbies together. Plus we were in the same class too. What I love most about Lucy is she was the one person who introduced me to good music and partially created my inspiration to become a music journalist. Before meeting her, I admit I was a cheesy pop chick as a child. But after getting to know each other, she introduced me to the sounds of The Killers, Elbow, The Courteeners, Arctic Monkeys and many more. She was also the one who introduced me to the world of music festivals and invited me to come to Reading Festival 2012 for her 18th birthday. Since then we have attended Reading Festival 2014 and Glastonbury Festival 2015 together. Nowadays, she is currently studying her masters degree in Manchester but we always try and have an annual get together.

Lottie Rapson

Lottie & Emma Prom 2010

Lottie is another former classmate of mine at Treloar School. Let’s just say she inspired the rebellious side in me by causing mischief and breaking school rules. She also helped inspire my ambition to be a music journalist by inviting me to my first ever concert in 2009. Although our hobbies, interests and lifestyles have differed since school, we still find time for each other and spend time together.

Stephanie Castelete-

Emma and Steph at Foo Fighters concert 2015

I met Steph when we were at Treloar College. She was in the year below me but we were living in the same boarding house for a year. Most of my college memories with Steph involve alcohol and innuendos. In 2012 we went to the Harry Potter studio tour together and because we are both disabled, we got special treatment and were allowed to hold a few props. In 2015, I was honoured to become a bridesmaid at her wedding. (Of course I should mention her husband Paul at this point who is also a good friend too). Steph is currently doing her masters in Bristol but we keep regular contact via Skype and meet up when we get a chance.

Kristy White

Kristy and Emma

Explaining this friendship to others is highly amusing. Basically I was using a domiciliary care company while at University. In October 2014, Kristy joined the company as a carer. I got to know her well and she became my favourite member of my care team. In December 2015, she left the company due to a difficult relationship with her manager. Unfortunately she was unable to say goodbye to me and unable to contact me due to the care company policy. However six months later, I got an unexpected message from her on Facebook asking how I was and to contact her if I need anything. I responded asking if she would accompany me to a BBQ. She did so and from there our friendship blossomed. She became a regular PA for me in autumn 2016 and has done the occasional ad-hoc day with me over the past two years. She even let her daughter Lily come along who has become very fond of me these past few years. Kristy’s quality of care skills is incredible and she is one in a million. If I could employer her full time, or even clone her, I would. My favourite thing about our friendship is we have loads in common and great tastes in music. She is officially my live music partner. We’ve been to see Foo Fighters twice, V Festival 2016, Walking on Cars, Biffy Clyro, Reading Festival 2017, The Pigeon Detectives and victorious festival 2018. Most recently, Kristy and her family moved to west London but we still have a close relationship and meet up when we can and have plenty more live music events lined up. Without my disability, I would never require care and I may have never met Kristy.

These five people mean so much to me and keep me going strong when times are hard. Without them I would not be who I am today and I thank you all for that.

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