INITIAL filming started this weekend for upcoming movie “Give Them Wings” which follows the struggle of wheelchair-user and meningitis sufferer Paul Hodgson.

The film explores how Quakers fan Mr Hodgson, from Darlington, was left unable to move or speak in the years following his diagnosis, whilst also highlighting how he made the best out of a bad situation.

On Saturday, film director Sean Cronin, who has worked on Harry Potter, The World Is Not Enough and the fifth Mission Impossible, was at Darlington FC’s Blackwell Meadows ground for the team’s match against Hereford to get some action shots for the film.

He said: “We’re just getting ready for the main filming to start, but we needed to get some shots of a match, some shots with the actors watching football, and some general scene shots.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Cronin is in charge of turning Mr Hodgson’s dream into reality. He said: “Paul is so tenacious, has such a wonderful sense of humour and nothing appears to faze him, and because of that I just had to get involved in this project.

“They’ve all worked really hard for at least seven years trying to raise the money to get things started, and they have. It’s a wonderful true story.”

He added: “I’m extremely proud to have been asked to direct this heart rending, thought-provoking story.”

Mr Hodgson, who is classed as severely disabled, is known as Flipper to his fellow football supporters. He said his Darlington Football Club allegiance features in the film as part of his “struggle with acceptance”.

Mr Hodgson said he was excited and delighted that filming was getting underway. He said: “It’s great to see things moving. The main filming starts in a couple of weeks at least until the end of the month, and everyone is looking forward to it finally becoming a reality.”

The story of the Mr Hodgson’s childhood struggles with the disease has attracted a cast including the likes of Toyah Willcox and Holby City actor Bill Fellow.

Toyah, who plays Mr Hodgson’s mother, joined the project after being passed the script by the film’s director.

Give Them Wings explores the highs and lows of Mr Hodgson’s life and his experiences as a disabled person, filmmaker and avid football fan. It follows him through childhood to the year 2000, where a planned second biography will pick up from.

Highlights include moving depictions of Mr Hodgson’s time at Newcastle’s Percy Hedley school, the institution he credits with inspiring him to live an independent life.

The main filming is due to start on November 11.