Stories of Men

Story of Ric Cassell who lived most of his life in a wheelchair

Achieving independence in a wheelchair

“I dreamt up a system of getting one of those backpacks that you put a kid in, and I fastened it onto the front of the chair, and just dropped them into that, so that I could still wheel the chair, and you know, be responsible for taking the other kids to school.”

Achieving independence in a wheelchair

This episode of Our Voices presents the story of Ric, a man who has been in a wheelchair for most of his life. Ric has proven himself to be particularly resourceful. With his personal mantra of “there’s no such word as can’t”, he has found a way to do things that many would assume would be beyond his ability.

Overcoming disability challenges

An example of Ric’s overcoming of disability challenges occurred when his young daughter was in danger. He had just parked the car and she had opened the door and sprinted directly towards the main road. 

“It was rough ground, there’s no way I would be able to catch her. And I shouted at her ‘Stop!’ and she didn’t appear to listen. It was the first real time when I was hit by this feeling of panic.”

A rapid improvisation

Improvising quickly, Ric took off one of his shoes and threw it at her. “And it hit her on the back of the head and made her stop. Which sounds like a horrific thing to do. But there was a road nearby and I had to react quickly. So that made her stop and look around and I said,          

‘Can you bring me my shoe back, please?’” The toddler returned her father’s shoe and was out of harm’s way.

tay at home dad in a wheelchair

Being a father in a wheelchair

Being a stay-at-home dad to his three daughters, Ric had plenty of practise performing his duties as a father in a wheelchair. The most difficult of these proved to be changing his daughters’ nappies. After developing an ingenious scheme, Ric found a way to pull this off. “I got a drawer, and I put it on an old TV stand, so that I could sit in an armchair where I’ve got a side on either side of me, so I was balanced and secure. 

And this trolley with this drawer on the top of it, because it had little tiny sides being a drawer, you could fit the changing mat into it, and you could put them on it. And then underneath the trolley was a box you could pull out which had absolutely everything that you would need to change them.”

Taking his children to school while caring for a baby was another puzzle that needed to be solved. Wheeling himself in his chair while also pushing a pram would have been extremely tiring, so Ric hatched a foolproof plan.

 “I dreamt up a system of getting one of those backpacks that you put a kid in, and I fastened it onto the front of the chair, and just dropped them into that, so that I could still wheel the chair, and you know, be responsible for taking the other kids to school.”

Wheelchair racing

Ric has not only employed novel ways of completing parental duties, he has also broken down barriers by helping to popularise wheelchair racing. He has done this by campaigning for wheelchair users to be able to join the London Marathon. 

When the London Marathon began, he and friend applied to take part but they were told by one of the event’s co-founders that they would not be welcome to participate. “That just rubbed me up the wrong way. So that’s what got me started doing it. I’m a bit bolshy at times, you know, don’t tell me I can’t do anything.”

Contracting a devastating virus

Ric moves on to talk about the illness which led to him being wheel-chair bound. At the age of two-and-a-half, his father took him to a nearby swimming pool. Yet, tragically, there had been a polio outbreak in the southeast of the country and Ric would end up contracting the infection. 

Polio survivor

Ric was rushed to hospital and the initial expectation was that he would not survive. Yet, he did and, the next morning, Ric’s mum was able to transfer him to a better-resourced hospital where he would receive a higher level of care. Reflecting on his experiences at the time, Ric says

 “I tell people now that I’ve already survived a pandemic, because that’s basically what it was, polio, back then.”

The ability to walk?

Although Ric became a polio survivor, the consequences of having contracted the virus were life-changing. He became a quadriplegic as the virus affected all four of his limbs. He also ended up remaining in hospital for 5 years. 

The orthodoxy at the time was that, for a patient to successfully recover, they must be able to walk but, for Ric, walking proved to require enormous amounts of effort for very little reward. 

“I used to be able to stagger maybe 100 yards and be totally exhausted… Whereas put me in a wheelchair and I can whizz over 100 yards and do stuff. You can become functional.”

But Ric was not able to experience life in a wheelchair until he was 7 years old. Until then, he had to get by using a buggy or by crawling. Yet he remains particularly philosophical about his childhood experiences. “I have no bad memories about it. It was just… that was life.”

Keeping a friend in-tow

As Ric grew older, he got into a boarding school which specialised in teaching children with disabilities. At the school, Ric struck up a friendship with a boy who had muscular dystrophy. On one occasion, Ric found himself performing a potentially dangerous feat in order to help out his friend.

 “He was quite severely disabled in a power chair, and the battery had run flat, and we were miles away from the school. But I just towed him back. And the easiest method to tow a heavy power chair was down the white line of this country lane. So when we got back to the school, we were met by the police, because they’d had this report of someone who was just going down the middle of the road and cars having to go off to the side.”

A father’s grief

One person who was particularly proud of his son’s bravery was his father. But his father hasn’t always found it easy to accept what happened to his son. During an argument on one occasion Ric blurted out that it was his father who had given him polio by taking him to the swimming pool all those years ago.

In response, Ric’s father had to leave the room. “He was choked, to be honest. And I just had to say that I’m really sorry, Dad. I didn’t mean that. I’m sorry. And he just held his hand up, and he just wanted to walk off down the garden. Because we had got a big step at the back of the house where I couldn’t follow… I think it was grief. I think it had just come back to haunt him”.

Remaining positive

Yet Ric’s attitude to life has remained robustly positive. “Having a disability is just an impairment. It’s not the end of your life or anything. It’s just something that needs to be addressed. And far more of what makes you disabled is the social environment around you, rather than what you can’t do.” 

Adapting to difficult situations has been a feature of Ric’s life. But surely he’s right in suggesting that it’s time that society did more to make the lives of people who have disabilities less of a struggle.

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Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3


Favourite Food: Potatoes

Favourite Sport: Wild swimming

Favourite Show: Anything Marvel

Favourite Movie: Anything Marvel

Favourite City: London

Hobby: Music

Favourite Book: Northern Lights


I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years


Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.


I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

 Experience in Industry: 5 years


Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

Favourite Sport: Rugby. I played from the age of 5 until 26 when a dislocated shoulder put me out of action. Still like to watch now though.

Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

Hobby: Listening to podcasts while on long walks with my dog Alfie.

Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt



Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  





Favourite Food: I love Indian food – My favourite dish is a Dansak. It’s a rich combination of hot, sweet and sour flavours, made from lamb and lentils.

Favourite Sport: I enjoy watching combat sports like MMA – Isreal Adesanya is my favourite fighter at the moment, due to his Tae Kwon Do base and speed. 

Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.


I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.



Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 

Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live 

I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!


Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.