Boss who beat all the odds

Stephen Collins, 52, has cerebral palsy but has set up a successful business single-handed, Lazarus Mobility independent living centre, Brookfoot, Brighouse
Stephen Collins, 52, has cerebral palsy but has set up a successful business single-handed, Lazarus Mobility independent living centre, Brookfoot, Brighouse

STEPHEN Collins has just notched up his first year as a successful boss – despite suffering cerebral palsy.

The 52-year-old said: “It proves if you want to do it you, can do it.”

The cerebral palsy affects Stephen’s movement and communication but his firm – which provides mobility aids for the disabled – has just posted a profit.

His aim was to help others like him and with wife Sally they ploughed their savings into creating Lazarus Mobility, Brighouse.

Stephen, who was shunned by his bank, said: “When I first came here there was just a toilet. We built the office, bathroom, kitchen and showroom.

“The bank wouldn’t even give me an overdraft. We spent a lot of money setting up, so it didn’t leave me a lot of leeway.

“It’s only in the last three months that I have managed to take a salary out of it and we’ve just done our first year accounts and made a small profit.

“I’m very pleased. I never, ever, doubted myself or my ability but I did think a big obstacle would be people’s attitude.

“If I’m perfectly honest, that’s what drives me forward, rather than profits.

“When people ring up they will say ‘Can I speak to the boss?’ or ‘I can’t understand you. Can you get someone else?’

“That’s one reason why I’m doing this - to change people’s attitudes. To prove no matter what your disability, if you want to do it you can do it.”

Stephen used to be a computer manager for the NHS but always wanted to set up a company to help the disabled.

He said: “If a woman goes into a shop and wants to buy underwear for herself and there’s a man serving I would imagine they would feel pretty uncomfortable talking about what they need. But if it was a woman serving, they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.

“I think this puts me in a unique position. I can’t say I have used all my equipment but I can say I use some of it and know what is good and what is bad.”

Mr Collins is helped at times in the business by Sally and has a PA and part-time van driver.

He has grand plans for the future of the business with more showrooms and branching out into driving lessons and holidays for people with disabilities.

“What I’m about is independent living. That means everything.

“I have a saying that we’re all equal at birth and we’re all equal at death, so why can’t we be equal in the middle?

“Whether you wear a pair of glasses or walk with a walking frame or have a wheelchair, these are aids to help you live your life as successfully as you can.”

Mr Collins, who has an 18-year-old daughter, Rose, has been known to work seven days a week.

He said: “It’s my life, my hobby. Doctors told me I couldn’t walk and I do that now. Yes, it might be with a walking frame but I do walk and if I can do that, I can do business.

“I’m proud of everything I’ve done.”