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Memoirs and Biography

To the Mountain Top:

Meeting the Challenge of Disability

 

About this book:

  • ISBN: 9781904524328 (paperback)

  • Published 2005

  • Price £13.90 + postage

  • 187 pages

  • Illustrated with 22 photographs

About the Author:
Larry Walters is a retired chartered engineer who lives in the Lake District. Born with cerebral palsy into a working class family in the 1930s, his future seemed very bleak. Many saw him as not only being severely physically handicapped, but also beyond education.
Being obstinate and single-minded, the author was determined to overcome what he calls a 'series of little local difficulties.' Married with one daughter and two grand-daughters, he somehow managed to combine his family life and professional career with a range of other challenging activities. He was also one of the first people to campaign for equal opportunities for disabled people. In 1986 he was awarded an MBE. His interests include current affairs, history since 1780, exploring the Lake District, swimming against the tide and writing.

Reviews:

This is a moving book of triumph over severe disability by a man of excelling courage of whom you could say that, if he is pursuing an objective, the question is not whether he will succeed but simply when...
His autobiography is not only an intriguing account of Larry's own struggle to reach his mountain top, involving gruelling conflicts with authorities of one kind and another along the way. From its coverage of the goings-on inside a prisoners-of-war camp for German officers to describing scenes at a Labour Party Conference, from Manchester Methodism to the start of Quakerism and an insider's account of the work of a health authority and supplementary benefits appeals tribunal, this is a fascinating read which I thoroughly commend.
The Rt. Hon. Lord Morris of Manchester

Review from Lifestyle Magazine, Autumn 2005

There's a double-edged meaning to the title of this book. Larry Walters loves to explore the Lake District, but on a metaphorical level he's had a few personal mountains to conquer. Walters is a retired chartered engineer who was born with cerebral palsy into a working class family in the 1930s and his future appeared very bleak. Many saw him as not only being severely physically handicapped, but also beyond education.

Being obstinate and single-minded, the author was determined to overcome what he calls a series of little local difficulties. Married with one daughter and two grand-daughters, he somehow managed to combine his family life and professional career with a range of other challenging activities. He was also one of the first people to campaign for equal opportunities for disabled people and in 1986 he was awarded an MBE.

The number of topics covered is vast including life inside a prisoner-of-war camp for German soldiers to Labour Party conferences and the beginnings of Quakerism, in a time when people are bringing out autobiographies for little more than being a 20-year-old footballer, it's refreshing to know there's something more substantial out there for the discerning reader.

An inspiring journey
To the Mountain Top is an emotive account of one man's inspirational journey through life with cerebral palsy - a disability that he was determined to overcome.
From an early age, Larry Walters discovered that he was different from others, and with his discovery came the realisation that he had a mountain to climb and a summit to reach.
Mr Walters' journey begins in 1930s Britain in a small Derbyshire village, where he was rejected from school due to his disability. But despite encountering such ignorance and discrimination, Mr Walters decided that cerebral palsy simply made life a more interesting challenge.
His determination to make his life an adventure is evident in this colourful biography that talks about his early years at Hawkshead Primary School; his interest in Quakerism; and his campaign to achieve equal opportunities for disabled people, which saw him rewarded with an MBE.
In the book, Mr Walters, of Natland, vividly recalls each step of his life and creates a detailed image of himself at every milestone, from the vulnerable child standing alone in the playground to the proud man standing on the summit of White Side.
Mr Walters triumphantly reached his Cumbrian mountain top, and his story of optimism and resolve is sure to be an inspiration to many.
Westmorland Gazette, December 2005.

Local difficulties...

Being born with cerebral palsy into a 1930s working-class family did not result in an optimistic future for Larry Walters. Mr Walters, however, was not be deterred. He found the motivation to overcome his 'series of little local difficulties' and went on to launch a career as an engineer, find a loving wife, have a daughter and receive an MBE in 1986.

Mr Walters has always been a campaigner for legislation protecting disabled people, and his May 1978 letter in the 'Guardian' caught the eye of Lord Morris of Manchester, who placed him on his Committee on Restriction Against Disabled People.

To the Mountain Top: Meeting the Challenge of Disability is Larry Walters' story. His autobiography, an inspiring tale of success in the face of incredible adversity that ends very fittingly at the summit of a Cumbrian mountain, makes for both an entertaining and enlightening read. Methodist Recorder, 20 April 2006

Go, tell it on the mountain

Back in the 1970s I became aware of Larry Walters. I was running Granada Television's current affairs programme World in Action (mission statement: 'to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable'), and I went on to run a stable of spin-off programmes dealing with social affairs and citizenship. One was called This is Your Right, fronted by Michael Winstanley. (Yes, he claimed to be a descendant of our own Gerrard Winstanley, Quaker, True Leveller and revolutionary. There must be
a radical-activist agent somewhere in the family gene pool).

One of the most flamboyant members of Winstanley's team was Larry Walters, distinguished not only by his inexhaustible energy and refusal to take no for an answer but also by the way he walked and talked. Larry had been born with cerebral palsy. His job on the programme was to advise on disability issues and medical rights. I believe his down-to-earth advice on how to cope and where to get practical help transformed innumerable lives in Granadaland.

In May 1978 he had a letter in the Guardian calling for legislation to make discrimination against the disabled unlawful. The newly-appointed Minister for Disabled People, Alf Morris, invited him to join a committee of inquiry which led to a sustained campaign to enact the necessary legislation. It took 17 years. Larry Walters, writes the now Lord Morris of Manchester, 'took a leadership role', bringing 'a clear sense of purpose, boundless energy and single-minded commitment to succeed'.

Having spent his working life conquering personal mountains, Larry came to spend much of his retirement after 1995 walking the fells of Cumbria. Here one day he stumbled on Height Meeting house on Newton fell, built in 1677 and redolent of early Quakerism. For a man who lists among his special interests 'swimming against the tide', the story of the humble hill farmers who refused to pay tithes or worship by the Book of Common Prayer was an epiphany. Returning home, he sought out his local Quaker meeting at Solihull. Far from the romantic beauty of Height and the high fells, Solihull Friends met in 'a well-worn Portakabin surrounded by a large expanse of tarmac'. But the Quaker spirit had claimed another committed attender. To the Mountain Top is an inspiration. David Boulton, writing in The Friend 8 April 2006


 

 

 

 

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