This is the story of Jimmy McIntosh, told mostly in his own words. Jimmy was born with cerebral palsy in Kingussie in the Scottish Highlands in 1943 and spent most of his life in institutional care, most of it in Gogarburn Hospital on the outskirts of Edinburgh. His early years on his grandfather’s farm were followed by placements in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness and East Park Home in Glasgow. Difficult as they were, these early experiences prepared Jimmy for a life of dedication to the cause of disabled people’s right to choose the life they want to lead.
Jimmy was a tireless campaigner for equality and disability rights. Failed and abused by the system, his total lack of bitterness and forgiving nature made him a discerning advocate for disabled people like himself. He left Gogarburn Hospital in 1983 and lived with his wife Elizabeth in Edinburgh until his death in 2014.
‘When I go to meetings, I focus totally on what people say. I concentrate and my ears are wide open, and I’ve got my eyes on the person who is speaking. My eyes are not everywhere, my mind is not wandering.’
– JIMMY MCINTOSH
A great organiser, committee man and negotiator he was involved in countless campaigns on issues such as voting rights for patients, cuts in social services, setting up advocacy services and hate crime strategies. He was awarded an MBE in 2006 in recognition of his tireless work over many years fighting for people’s rights and challenging discrimination.
If Jimmy’s story illustrates nothing else, it is how person-centred he was. A man of enormous empathy, who demonstrated such generous acceptance and patience, despite what he had experienced. He was always himself. His legacy must be to keep moving forward towards a truly inclusive society where every contribution is cherished and valued in the certain knowledge that we are all the richer for that.
– Steve Coulson, Thistle Foundation, co-creator of the Big Plan
The voice of Jimmy McIntosh is important to anybody concerned with a more tolerant and including society. His story will resonate with readers in very different ways depending on their own personal circumstances and experiences; it amounts to a challenging testament to resilience, kindness, and wisdom.
– Tom Frank, Former Social Worker and Trainer City of Edinburgh Council