The remarkable story of Paula Rees, who has helped shape Chickenshed as its resident writer and poet, will be retold to mark the venue’s 40th anniversary.

Born with cerebral palsy, doctors said there was no hope of her ever learning or understanding anything, but with her family’s love and support she more than proved them wrong, going on to write more than 40 songs and poems and taking to the stage in productions.

The theatre’s founder and director of music Jo Collins says: “Paula’s effect on Chickenshed has been huge. Her story is a microcosm of the ethos of Chickenshed – that believing and having faith in people can allow every individual to develop to their full potential. Whatever the challenges.”

Paula talks to Laura Enfield about her life and what it means to see Paula’s Story, first performed in 1993, brought back to the stage.

What was your childhood like?

I was born and grew up in Enfield in a very loving family who always believed in me. I know that professionals have been judging me from the day I was born – with my family being judged even more. The doctors made some fundamental mistakes in their diagnosis of my existence and didn’t believe that I existed in their terms. They didn’t believe that I had a real chance of a future thought or future feeling.

How did you first discover your love of words and what was your ’breakthrough moment’?

I was at the point of no return – believing that the negativity, which was surrounding my family from outside, would close in and strangle us all.

The professionals kept saying that as a family we “couldn’t” and as a person I “couldn’t”. We kept saying we “could”, but they – the all-knowing they – needed to have evidence, a sign. I was, or thought I was able to guide a thought from deep within myself, through the many mazes and dead ends, which my body put in its way.

Finally it came out into the open and fortunately my mother was there to catch it and make sense of it. It was only a small thought, me pointing to a picture in a magazine with my head, but it was important. Not because I had thought it, but because I made someone know I had thought it.

How did you first got involved with Chickenshed?

I had been through lots of operations and the only time that I could go out of the house was when my mum or dad took me out. This woman told my family about Chickenshed. My mum and dad didn’t do anything to find out about it until we saw a big white tent with Chickenshed written on it at the Enfield Town Show in 1987. It was then that we were told it was a theatre company, but it took my mum three months to eventually phone them and then she took me along in April 1988 when I was 18 years old.

I loved it! I was glowing. For me Chickenshed meant an open world and an untouched slate. In Chickenshed it was all about what I could do. If there was a new verb – a verb for all the things involved in the phrase “go for it” – then the verb “to Chickenshed” would fit.

How did Paula’s Story first come about?

It was created by Mary Ward from interviews with myself and all my family.

How did you feel seeing it performed?

Chickenshed took my story and made it into something so real and so important to me and my family. Seeing my story outside of myself is beautiful, strange and new. I think I understand me now, or some of me.

How does it feel to see it brought back to the stage?

Watching my story performed by very committed people who believe in it is the most moving experience and one which I feel privileged to have – everyone should have it.

It makes me feel so proud that working through and performing my struggle and the struggle of my family can help people in some way through the very real struggles they face every day My family have brought me through everything – hurdle by hurdle, barrier by barrier, sadness by sadness – I owe them this story. It is far more a tribute to them, than me.

What inspires your writing?

With Chickenshed I can write lyrics, which are put to music and become, what some people say, are beautiful. I have had the privilege of working with the most brilliant range of people in the most brilliant range of places. I feel that I was born for a purpose. I am valued and I have something to offer the world.

Chickenshed Theatre, Chase Side, Southgate, April 30 to May 17. Details: 020 8292 9222,