About Life Changing
Dr Sian Williams talks to people who have lived through extraordinary events that have reshaped their lives in the most unpredictable ways.
Jason and Liz met by chance whilst travelling, they fell in love and within a year were engaged and expecting a child. 365 days after that first meeting, Jason woke up from a coma. He had suffered a devastating brain injury which meant he would have to learn to walk again just as his son was taking his first steps. As a couple, Jason and Liz Le Masurier had to navigate a new and unexpected course. They tell their story to Dr Sian Williams.
What do you do, if falling in love with someone becomes a matter of life or death? In 2013 Aderonke Apata found herself on a coach in the UK, heading for the airport, about to be deported to Nigeria. She’d left her home country years earlier in fear for her life. Her ‘crime’ was that she loved another woman. Same-sex couples in Nigeria face jail time from the courts and, in Aderonke's situation, the threat of deadly violence at the hands of mobs. As she got on the coach the documents that Aderonke had painstakingly compiled to stop her deportation were still being furiously faxed to the authorities. At the eleventh hour she was given a reprieve — and so her legal training had begun. She would successfully fight her own case and find herself a new career in the process. Aderonke tells her story to Dr Sian Williams.
Electra Rhodes is walking down a busy London street when she sees a man collapse. She’s recently completed a first aid course and in the absence of anyone else she steps up and starts CPR. When the ambulance arrives and takes the man to hospital she makes a comment to his friend. Her words trigger a chain of events that will dramatically change the course of four lives. Electra tells Dr Sian Williams her story.
It’s 2011 and Nicola Shaughnessy is on her way to an academic conference when she stops to buy herself some lunch. As she reaches for a sandwich she suddenly hears a familiar voice from her childhood. That moment and that voice lead to years of psychiatric care and upheaval but ultimately to answers and a better understanding of herself. Now a university professor, she tells her story to Dr Sian Williams. BBC Action Line support: Autism: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2637nQGtTK1D8YPkCSnlyDN/information-and-support-autism Eating disorders: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2DRkg4JC7SLT3B7hlrn6DKN/information-and-support-eating-disorders
Steven Brosnan found himself in a bit of a rut, living at home and moving from job to job. Then, in 2012, on his 22nd birthday catastrophic events take place; rather than enjoying a pop concert with his brother he finds himself having to make apparent life-or-death decisions. Ten years later he tells Dr Sian Williams his unique story and the unexpectedly positive consequences those 48 hours had on his outlook. Producer: Thomas Harding Assinder with Edgar Maddicott
In the late 1950s a newspaper ran this small ad: 'Can Catholic people in London or the Home Counties offer a permanent home for an attractive baby girl aged one year who is above average intelligence?’ That girl was Teresa Weiler, who was subsequently adopted and raised in a loving family home. Twenty years later she went to read her adoption file. Alone in a room with those documents and totally unprepared, she discovered a terrible secret about her birth parents that would reverberate through her whole life and lead her to make a profound decision. Yet she told no-one about it for decades. Dr Sian Williams hears her story.
Kieran Quinlan is 17, living in Birmingham and an aspiring boxer when he is confronted by a man with a knife who tells him to empty his pockets. Kieran is given a countdown, 3…2…1… and then it happens, he is stabbed — the knife reaching his heart. In surgery, he hears himself flatline. He survives but the wound leaves scars that penetrate deep into his life. It’s in the years that follow that the fight for survival really begins. Twelve years on, he tells his story to Dr Sian Williams. Please be warned there are some graphic images described in this episode and reference to suicide. If you’ve been affected by anything you’ve heard you can find support here: Mental health: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1NGvFrTqWChr03LrYlw2Hkk/information-and-support-mental-health-self-harm Suicide/Emotional distress: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4WLs5NlwrySXJR2n8Snszdg/information-and-support-suicide-emotional-distress
It’s 1976, the UK is in the grip of a gruelling heatwave and fresh-faced detective, Steve Bentley is about to go undercover in a rural village in mid Wales. It’s his first undercover gig, part of a massive national operation called Operation Julie and Steve’s excited but wholly unprepared for the toll this job will take.
It’s 1988 and Steve Ellis is working on the launch of a new magazine in London, when a letter lands on his desk. It’s from his mum and the contents of that letter are about to break a 37-year silence and send Steve on a painstaking quest lasting decades. He tells Jane Garvey his story.
Mikey Allen is on a tour of duty to Afghanistan when he is caught up in a landmine blast. He is physically unharmed but witnessing the event leaves him with mental scars that look set to destroy his life. He finds a way to combat the trauma that is both majestic and unique. He tells Jane Garvey his story. Please be aware that this interview references suicide. If you are suffering distress or despair and need support, including urgent support, a list of organisations that can help is available at bbc.co.uk/actionline, or you can call for free to hear recorded information on 0800 066 066.
It’s 1996 and Jill Clark has been living in Guernsey for less than a year. It’s been a glorious summer and she is looking forward to her 25th birthday. Like for most young people looks are important to her. A journey home from the pub is about to make Jill question the importance of the human face.
From the age of two up to 16, Sinéad Browne is in and out of children’s homes and foster care. Her one constant is school. She’s regularly told she will amount to nothing but against expectations and as an act of defiance, Sinéad just studies harder. At times she is hungry and ashamed to ask for help. Years of a complicated relationship with food develop into a serious eating disorder but in spite of all this Sinéad gets herself three A’s at A level and then a law degree and a job as a solicitor. So many life experiences for a young woman but in the end it is a very simple thing, a meal, that forces a major turning point in her life. She tells Jane Garvey her remarkable story. Please be aware this edition talks about suicide and eating disorders. You can find details of organisations offering information and support with both these subjects: Eating disorders: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2DRkg4JC7SLT3B7hlrn6DKN/information-and-support-eating-disorders Suicide / Emotional distress: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4WLs5NlwrySXJR2n8Snszdg/information-and-support-suicide-emotional-distress
It’s 2013 when Gilbert and Jane both have to face a major transformative moment. Jane has been studying for a much longed-for PhD and a new exciting career is on the horizon. Their life together is built on a shared love of nature and hiking. But then Gilbert can no longer walk. Some big decisions have to be made and just when they are at their lowest, the mountain view from their bedroom window sparks something remarkable.
Moss Hills and his wife Tracey have made a successful living as entertainers on cruises. They play guitar and sing – usually covering 60s and 70s hits – as guests dance until the early hours. One stormy night in 1991 they were working on the Greek cruise liner Oceanos off the South African coast when the lights went out, the PA system fell silent and the ship rolled so much that just staying upright was a challenge. Their actions in the face of extreme danger would affect almost all of the 581 people on board. Moss Hills tells Jane Garvey his life-changing story.
Catherine Butler-Burns decided to become a nun aged 17. It was a shock to her parents, they weren’t especially religious by Irish standards of the time and until then Catherine had been having a lively teenage social life. But she chose to take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience because the women she saw “saving the world” were nuns. Catherine took on a role teaching speech and drama at a Catholic school in Scotland where she met a priest called Father Michael. There was evidently an emotional connection between them but it was never openly acknowledged. She lived and worked as a nun for 42 years then - aged 60 - she made a momentous decision. And what would become of the love that had been stifled for nearly thirty years? To get in touch with the programme, or to share your personal story, you can email us at: email@example.com Image: Catherine Butler-Burns Credit: Catherine Butler-Burns
When Jaina Mistry was young she had a very scary encounter with a dog that she thought had given her a lifelong phobia. Her family felt much the same. But years later her freedom would be curtailed in the most basic way as even going out to a café or to the gym became fraught with danger. To help her through this she was encouraged to put all her faith in a dog called Laura. Jaina is believed to be England’s first blind female fitness instructor and told Jane Garvey about the transformative impact Laura has had on her life. To get in touch with the programme, or to share your personal story, you can email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org Image: Jaina Mistry & Laura the dog Credit: Jaina Mistry Twitter: @mistryjaina1 Instagram: mistry_jaina
One Sunday, over drinks, Reg Mead was told a story: that back in the fifties a farmer had unearthed a pot full of old coins. He’d scooped up what he could and then ploughed the rest back in to the field. Reg is a keen metal detectorist so his interest was piqued. He got permission from the landowner and set off with some friends from his metal-detecting club. But there was a catch, the land was very much in use so he could only search for four to five hours a year. After a while most club members gave up and moved on but Reg and his friend Richard Miles persisted, for thirty years. If you’d like to get in touch with the programme you can email us: email@example.com
On the evening of Friday 29 November 2013, Michael Byrne was having a drink with a friend in a bar in Glasgow. They'd gone to see a band and had only been there for about an hour when suddenly it felt like everything had been shaken up – as if they were in snowglobe. Amid the chaos of falling debris Michael’s actions helping others were heroic, and afterwards to his wife and colleagues he seemed to be just fine. In the aftermath of this disaster he and his friend had agreed not to speak about what they’d been through in a misguided effort to ‘protect’ themselves. But Michael was struggling to cope and the more time that passed without talking about it, the worse things got for him. Confronting the experience would bring back traumatic memories from his early life and push him to a place where he contemplated suicide. He was stopped by a chance event – and then began seriously to address his mental health. Now Michael has founded an organisation called Lived Experience Trauma Support to provide mental health training and support services to businesses. The tragedy in 2013 was caused by a police helicopter that crashed into the roof of the Clutha Vaults in Glasgow. It claimed the lives of the pilot, his two crew members and seven customers in the pub that night. If you are looking for details of organisations offering information and support with mental health you can find them at bbc.co.uk/actionline. To get in touch with the programme, or to share your personal story, you can email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pip Peacock lives in Bakewell in the Peak District, a perfect spot for walking the family dog, Buster. He’d been with them for 11 years. He was originally a present for her youngest son when he was a teenager but when he found out just how much was involved in dog ownership the title of chief dog walker soon fell to Pip. Thankfully she likes walking. This year she set herself a challenge of completing 1000 miles on foot. She finished the last mile this October, raising money for the air ambulance who had come to her rescue when she was seriously injured on another country walk with Buster back in 2019. She tells Jane Garvey how that moment left her fighting for her life. If you’d like to get in touch with the programme you can email us: email@example.com See here for more detail on how to keep safe whilst walking near livestock: www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/safety/walking-near-livestock.aspx
Society & Culture
The podcast Life Changing is embedded on this page from an open RSS feed. All files, descriptions, artwork and other metadata from the RSS-feed is the property of the podcast owner and not affiliated with or validated by Podplay.