Wales

Born small: A man with dwarfism talks about his life

James Lusted
Image caption James Lusted and Chloe Roberts recently became engaged

As they were shown to a table for dinner Chloe Roberts and James Lusted had seen the waitress pick up something as well as the menus.

She automatically took a colouring book and crayons as she showed them to their table.

Mr Lusted, 26, stands 3ft 7in tall. His now fiancee Miss Roberts, 20, is 5ft 7in.

"I said, 'thank you very much' to the waitress, and as soon as she heard my voice she knew I wasn't a child," Mr Lusted said.

"She hid the colouring book behind her back and didn't disturb us again."

Thankfully the couple from Colwyn Bay, Conwy, both saw the funny side.

Image copyright Three Foot Seven
Image caption Mr Lusted carried the Olympic flame through his home town as part of the torch relay ahead of London 2012

Mr Lusted was born with Diastrophic Dyslasia - a rare genetic condition that causes dwarfism - despite his parents both being of average height.

He has led an eventful life. He left school at 16 and is now a TV presenter and motivational speaker.

He has twice represented Great Britain in the World Dwarf Games and has been the UK champion at Class One badminton for nine years. He carried the Olympic torch when it travelled through Wales in 2012.

Image copyright Three Foot Seven
Image caption Miss Roberts said it took some people a while to get used to the idea of her dating James

But his life has been far from easy. His condition has meant that he spent a lot of his early life in and out of hospital.

He said: "I have had constant treatment on my neck and to straighten my limbs.

"Dad had to use a spanner every day to twist the nuts on my frame to straighten my legs and sometimes you could hear the bones creaking.

"The toughest time of my life was when I was 14 to 15.

"I had a tough year because I was being bullied that year. I don't know why or if it is because of how I was.

"I remember I had a knife thrown at me. I was pinned up against the wall with my little legs dangling there and it really affected me."

He added: "I have often thought from an early age who would want to marry me, a dwarf from Wales."

Diastrophic Dyslasia

  • Features of the condition include short arms and legs, a small chest and clubbed feet
  • Around 33% of sufferers have a cleft palate
  • The condition occurs in one in 110,000 births

Source: BBC

But he has found happiness with Miss Roberts and recently asked her to marry him.

Miss Roberts said: "All little girls dream about having their tall, dark and handsome prince charming.

"Never in my life did I think I'd date someone like James.

"Some people took a little longer to get used to the idea because he is a dwarf and I'm not."

Image copyright Three Foot Seven
Image caption Mr Lusted presents a programme on the Welsh-language channel S4C

The couple now face pressure from family members to have genetic tests if they have children to see if they would also be affected by James's condition.

Miss Roberts said: "A few of my family members would prefer me to be tested to see if I would have a dwarf child, but even if there was a chance of having a dwarf kid, it wouldn't change my mind."

Mr Lusted said: "When we're married, we'd love to have children and having a dwarf wouldn't bother us at all."

He added: "Even if we didn't have a dwarf, I don't think we'd think twice about adopting one. Their life is just as precious as our and we want to give them an opportunity too."

  • James Lusted and Chloe Roberts's story is told on Real Families: Born Small on BBC One Wales at 10:35pm on Tuesday