A LEICESTER entrepreneur who has overcome adversity, bullying and a life changing disability to become a successful businessman is celebrating after his incredible story became a best-selling author this summer.
Mark Esho has been on an almost unbelievable journey to become a top businessman, and it his incredible spirit, drive and self-propelled determination which has pushed him to become the very best he can be - despite almost every obstacle being thrown in his path.
In his thought-provoking and moving autobiography, Mark not only explores his upbringing and hard childhood - but also asks the question that if he knew what his life had in store for him, would he have chosen to be born.
And despite every abuse, beating and suffering he has endured - his surprising yet motivational answer is “Yes”.
The 56-year-old, who was born in Highfields and later moved to Newbold Verdon, a small village near Leicester, grew up in the county before being taken to Nigeria where his mother and father
lived, in their efforts to ‘cure’ him from polio, decided to release his life story after being persuaded by friends and family that others should know how his life changed overnight into what anyone would perceive as a living nightmare.
It was as a young, confident and adventurous boy who enjoyed riding his bike with his foster family in Leicester who one morning woke up in a cold sweat unable to walk - because he had contracted polio through no fault of his own, and for a reason which even baffled doctors. However it is believed it was through his Nigerian family (which is still a country where it is prevalent, even to this day).
Doctors gave him just a 10% chance of life and Mark was left paralysed from the neck down, before slowly regaining movement. However he still suffers from muscle damage and is unable to walk unaided.
The disease is now eradicated in the UK (where there has been no domestically acquired case of the disease since 1984) and thanks to the efforts of Rotary International - almost fully wiped out across the world. Mark is proud to have become a Rotary member in Leicester, inspired by the organisation’s role in starting and spearheading the campaign for a polio-free world.
Rotary International pledged to make the world polio free in 1985 when there was about a thousand cases a day in 125 countries.
Last year there was only 22 cases of wild polio-virus in the entire world, however the World Health Organisation has warned if vaccination is stopped, there will be 200,000 cases in the next decade - so everyone and everywhere is at risk until it is fully eradicated.
Thanks to the efforts of Rotary, along with its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the World Health Organisation, Unicef, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and more recently the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, there are now just three countries still classed as endemic: Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Here, Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland has launched the Purple4Polio campaign to raise funds and awareness to help End Polio Now and forever.
Mark, who is a member of Rotary, said: “It was a hard decision to write this book and I thought long and hard about it before I made that step. But I also knew my story had to be told. Not only as an incredible affirmation on why the work to eradicate this awful disease should continue and as to why children should be immunised, but also to show people that they can survive almost everything and anything life throws at them.
“I thought that learning to walk again after polio would be my biggest challenge, but it was just the start of the terror my life became, from an abusive father, horrendous beatings, bullying at school - I had to fight for everything. But I survived and thrived to what I have become today.”
Mark Kapur, Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire said he was an ‘inspiration’. “To see the determination Mark has shown in overcoming the hurdles in his life is amazing. His bravery in the face of adversity, not just once, but a number of times, is incredible, and his book is a must-read for all,” he said.
Kevin Routledge, chairman of Leicester Riders added: “His story, his contribution, his business acumen and his hugely positive personality - is an inspiration to us all, about how to take on life’s challenges, overcome and make a difference.”
The book can be purchased from Amazon for £12.99 via www.iWillOrderNow.com
To find out more about Mark visit www.markesho.com or for a video, visit www.iCaniWill.me.uk/video
For information about the Rotary Purple4Polio campaign, visit www.rotarygbi.org/projects/purple4polio/