People often contact us at their lowest point in life.
They may have been subject to the most horrific physical or sexual abuse or perhaps on the brink of suicide.
We can never imagine what it must be like to be a victim or survivor of these horrific acts but if anybody wanted an inspirational story to show that life can go on and be better than before they need look no further than Aaron Doherty.
We have known Aaron for several years. His life was changed in March 2010 when he was the victim of a horrific homophobic attack. At 17 he was simply walking to the train station in his home town of Rochdale with a friend. As he was walking a gang of 12 men started to chase and then attack him. Whilst his friend managed to escape and seek help Aaron was subjected to a prolonged and vicious attack where he was repeatedly punched, kicked and his head smashed into the kerb. Homophobic abuse was hurled at him as they inflicted blow-after-blow to his body.
Aaron remembers lying on the floor after the attack wanting to die.
After being admitted to hospital he was treated for two broken arms, a broken nose, bruised skull and damage to his eye sockets. He had glass in his right hip and knee. He was left unable to walk or feed himself.
He would recover from his physical injuries but the psychological injuries continued. He began to wet himself in the months that followed.
He had the usual symptoms of a psychological injury including flashbacks and nightmares and couldn’t leave his home for at least 6 months.
It is incredible to think that he was not offered any access to Mental Health Services and only prescribed drugs by his GP.
Aaron knew that these pills were not helping him and therefore in order to get away from the scene of the attack and the constant reminders of that night he decided to move abroad for a year where he found meditation and yoga to be much more helpful than the prescription drugs from his doctor.
On his return to the UK he got involved with a Local Performing Arts Group in Rochdale. What started as a part-time position quickly escalated and before he knew it he was working full time, throwing himself in to the plays and productions with young children performing at local events.
Nine years on he owns two franchises for Footlights Performing Arts covering Rossendale, Accrington & Burnley. He believes that the Performing Arts helped him recover from the attack.
He tells us that he has used what happened to him during the attack to educate the young people that he now works with every day.
He asks them to think about being compassionate and their morals when acting and putting on performances. If they sing a song he always asks them to think about the lyrics behind the song and discuss what the real meaning of the song is.
Aaron has turned a horrific experience in to such a positive for the local community. He runs workshops in local schools where 1000 children a month get to see his company perform. He puts on plays and workshops dealing with hate crime, bullying and grooming, educating young children about how to identify grooming and protecting themselves from dangerous situations.
We can certainly attest to this powerful and somewhat shocking play that Aaron has produced which certainly brings home the reality of issues affecting young people today such as grooming working with such talented young performers.
Almost 10 years after the attack Aaron is now a successful and driven business man working in the Arts and such a positive force of nature for all the children who not only work with him but who his team perform to.
Personally he is currently planning his wedding in 2020 and therefore is a real inspiration to anybody going through a traumatic experience in their life at present. No matter what happens to you, life can go on and life can be good again.
If you are a teacher or parent and think that one of Aaron’s plays may benefit your pupils we would wholeheartedly recommend that you contact Aaron for details of upcoming performances.