Brave teen Josh overcomes the odds to achieve his dream

Josh Waywell with proud mum Liz
Josh Waywell with proud mum Liz

A young Wigan man is on course to fulifil a lifelong dream of becoming a film director - in the face of quite overwhelming medical odds.

While Josh Waywell is one among many who are now planning to use their recently-acquired sixth form qualifications to get into university, there will be very few who have faced such adversity as the Appley Bridge 19-year-old.

Since I was young, I have always been interested in becoming a film director

Josh Waywell

He was born with the life-limiting condition Duchenne muscular dystrophy which has advanced so much recently that he is left only with the use of his weakening hands. And, completely unrelated to his illness, he also now suffers seizures which almost twice killed him earlier this year.

Yet despite intensive care doctors’ telling his parents Liz and Jason to prepare themselves for the worst in April - firstly when a fit caused respiratory arrest while he was being treated for pneumonia and later a collapsed lung - he battled back to complete his studies at Runshaw College in Leyland.

The former Shevington Vale Primary and Standish High School pupil achieved a distinction-star distinction in film and media studies which meant he has secured his place at at the University of Central Lancashire to read a BA Hons course in the same subject.

Josh, who is powered wheelchair-dependent, said: “Since I was young, I have always been interested in becoming a film director. It is very surreal that my dream is close to be achieved despite recent problems with my health. I can’t wait to start attending university at UCLAN studying Film and Media as well as entering the next stage of my life.”

Liz said: “We are so incredibly proud of Josh. Despite all his challenges, he is always determined and positive about living his dream. We are there with him every step of the way. We should know by now that he shouldn’t be underestimated. At high school, by the time he was in year 10 and his condition had deteriorated, he was expected to get Es in his GCSEs, but came away with Bs and Cs.

“And now he has exceeded expectations at Runshaw too, mainly because of what happened in the spring. Twice he was incubated in ICU and twice we thought we had lost him. No-one expected him to come round.

“But he has battled through, went back to college and gained excellent results. Luckily he was so far ahead on his course work that there wasn’t as much catching up to do as there might have been. He had to make his own film and do camera work which he did in his second year. The college helped him out with special equipment and he has had personal assistants to help him, but his hands were took weak by the end of the course.”

Liz says that Josh’s condition has deteriorated quite considerably in the last year, but this is a physical issue and it does not at all affect his mental powers and he has no problem with speech.

But he needs someone watching him 24/7 in case he has a seizure these days and he also needs to use a vent machine all night and for several hours during the day because of his chest and respiratory weakness.

Josh is an avid cinema-goer and supports both Wigan Athletic and Manchester United. He is also a music buff and had a slot on the Runshaw College Radio, the Voice. He hopes to carry on with something similar at UCLAN.