One of thalidomide survivor Karl Davies’s most amazing qualities is his complete lack of self pity.
The Luton-born father-of-two feels he’s blessed because he was able to have a career in IT, marry and have a family.
Born with arms just a few inches long, the former Denbigh pupil, said: “I didn’t ever think ‘Why me?’
But he and many of his contemporaries are beginning to suffer additional problems from the drug prescribed to their mothers to combat morning sickness in the 1960s and early 1960s.
Karl, 51, is incensed that they haven’t had more financial assistance.
He’s at the forefront of a new battle for compensation from drug manufacturers Grunenthal. The company never admitted liability to British victims, nor did it contribute to the Thalidomide Trust, set up after a high profile investigation by the Sunday Times.
It took 10 years for British distributors Distillers to agree to a one-off payment that has been topped up by current owners Diageo.
Karl said: “It’s really scandalous that there’s not more help available.”
He’s doing everything he can to raise awareness by holding seminars and encouraging people to add their hands to an internet wall of support.
But he’s also concerned about the impact on parents of thalidomide children: “It’s something that’s rarely discussed. My father gave up his job at Vauxhall to concentrate on the campaign and my mother couldn’t face looking after me. She wanted to put me in a home but the doctor talked her out of it.”
Karl lived with his grandparents for the first two years of his life and says his mother was so traumatised she went to the grave blaming herself.
“Mum died of cancer in 2003 and my father a year later. They were huge smokers and I’m sure my situation was a contributing factor,” he said.
“When I was about eight, I asked them why I didn’t have any siblings. They said they didn’t know how I’d feel having a brother or sister with arms.”
The couple subsequently had two more boys.
Karl’s father Roy was a keen photographer and his shocking black and white pictures of his disabled son were splashed all over the papers in the initial campaign for compensation.
His grandfather was featured in the Luton News because he boycotted Distillers’ products in his Biscot shop, the eponymous Karl’s Shoppe.
Karl is angry that the drug is still causing deformities in Brazil where it’s used for blood disorders.
“The packaging shows a pregnant woman with a line through her and people think it’s a contraceptive because many are illiterate,” he said.