Julian John, 50, collapsed in 2005 due to a brain injury that developed from food poisoning. Losing the ability to stand, walk and talk, he was housebound for three years.
After undergoing five years of intense physical therapy in the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, he was able to make a partial recovery although aspects of his life are still limited due to his disability.
Founder of the Diversity and Inclusion consultancy Delsion Ltd., Julian has excelled in his work life through his focus on supporting organisations to embrace inclusivity and accessibility. Businesses that affect his personal life are less disability friendly.
Music lover Julian has not been able to attend a concert or gig since his injury due the lack of accessibility at most events.
Julian said: “I have always loved music, and after my injury I really relied on it to help keep a positive mindset. Titanium by Sia and David Guetta is my go-to song when I’m feeling down, as its release alongside the London Paralympics in 2012 really gave me a boost to keep going when I was going through a tough time.
“I’d have loved to see him in Cardiff when he toured in 2013, but the accessibility made it unrealistic for me. It’s been hard not being able to go to any concerts since my injury.”
With a wide ranging music taste from ska band The Interrupters to Neil Diamond and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, family man Julian would love to attend a festival like Reading or Glastonbury with his two children, aged 8 and 9, and wife Adele, but it’s just not possible due to his condition.
Daring to Dream, a young Welsh charity who support and promote the emotional health and wellbeing of adult patients in Wales, are holding a virtual festival for people like Julian who can’t access live music due to their disability or illness.
Lleswyl: The Daring to Dream Festival will be live streamed on November 26 into people’s homes so that anyone can join in and have the festival experience in a free, accessible way.
The charity has commissioned Lleswyl merchandise and are encouraging people to organise festival food to share via social media on the night to enjoy the full festival experience. They are also currently running a poster competition giving the chance to win a Lleswyl T-shirt whilst completing the mindfulness activity.
Julian said: “I was so happy to hear that Daring to Dream are holding Lleswyl so that people like me with injuries or illnesses can enjoy live music and the festival experience in a fully accessible way. I can’t wait to join in with all my family and hear some live music!”
Barbara Chidgey, founder of Daring to Dream, has active systemic lupus that has led to damaged key internal organs, including her heart, kidneys and lungs, and causes her chronic pain, fatigue, and brain fog.
Barbara said: “Daring to Dream is all about supporting the emotional health of those with chronic illness, because it is essential to focus on living positively with chronic conditions. Lleswyl, our very first Daring to Dream Festival, will be a great way for everyone to get involved and experience the joy of reconnecting with others, with music as the catalyst.
“As we come out of lockdown and return to live gigs and festivals, it is important to remember that there is no ‘new normal’ for those in Wales living with chronic illness or disability. This is about bringing the full festival experience to them in new ways.”
Lleswyl: The Daring to Dream Festival will take place online on the evening of Friday, November 26. You can sign up here https://lleswyl.eventbrite.co.uk to host your own festival experience.
To find out more or support Daring to Dream, visit https://daringtodream.wales/.