I was born at Sunderland General Hospital on the 7th of September 1960 to the proud parents of Mary ‘Mollie’ and Henry ‘Harry’ Rutland. At that time, I had four other siblings Anne, Jim, Ronald and Kevin. Sadly, my parents had lost two children soon after birth and go on to lose a third Ronald in a tragic road accident.


My childhood was a happy one and somewhat protected due to my disability. I started my educational journey at Chilton Moor Junior & Infants School. There I made some close friendships and played left-half for the school football team (I’ve tried to remember my school teachers/football team on the Chilton Moor link – if I’ve missed any out then please help).

In the 1960/70’s many children had to take the eleven plus test to attend the local gramma school. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to sit the eleven plus, and while most of my friends gained places at Houghton Gramma School. I ended up attending Fencehouses Secondary Modern School. In the first year I was denied the opportunity to be GCE ‘streamed’ and ended up in Ms Wilson’s class. I had a crush on Ms Wilson and wanted to work hard for her and at the end of my first year I ended up collecting a shed load of awards at school speech day. The school then had to take me seriously and I was GCE streamed in years two, along with another pupil called Melanie. Throughout school Mel and I battled head to head to be class swot.