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Weaving a tale

An old black and white photo of a child on a tricycle on the grass outside a house

'I would never walk, talk, sit or stand!'
The girl on the tricycle

Marjorie Chappell

In this paper I will be talking about my life as a survivor, and the way I have defied the gloomy expectations of some of the doctors.

My mother was told, when I was about three, that I would never sit, stand, walk or talk and that I was blind, deaf and 'mental'. She was told to sign some forms to put me in a home. Instead, she looked after me all her life, though Dad could never accept me as the daughter he had dreamed of.

I was soon known as 'the girl on the tricycle' because Mother had bought me a tricycle, sat me on it, and tied me on. Away we went and if I hadn't had that tricycle I believe I would never have walked or done anything. It meant that I could go to the local council school which I loved - the foulest weather would never keep me away from school. I went everywhere and did most of the things that every other child did … up hill, down dale, across the common, I was there on my trike.

I was made to leave school at 14 and go to a special college where I got nowhere fast until my mother bought me a typewriter. Then I was taught to weave and this changed my life. I bought a loom and used it for over 40 years in my own workshop at home.

After many years, we moved to Milton Keynes which is the nearest thing to heaven for all disabled people. I am having the time of my life.

A colour photo of an older woman in a pink cardigan sitting on a chair

Marjorie's mother

An old black and white photo of a child wearing a sun hat and knee length dress standing in a garden

A young Marjorie

An old black and white photo of four children sitting cross legged on the grass outside a house, with a woman sitting behind them holding a sunshade above her

Marjorie (on the left)

An old black and white photo of a school, with a fence running alongside it and a tree in the foreground

Marjorie's school

An old black and white photo of a group of children standing in formation in front of a brick wall

Marjorie's (front row, 2nd from left) school photo

An old black and white photo of a group of girl guides in (what looks like) a railway carriage

Marjorie (far left) in the Girl Guides

An old black and white photo of a young woman on a bicycle outside a building

Older Marjorie on her bike

A colour photo of two elderly women, laughing, sitting inside a narrow boat

Marjorie and her mother on a holiday

Contact us

About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

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