WEIGHING less than a bag of sugar at birth, the lightest baby to survive at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital is now forging ahead in his playwriting career.

Russell Highsmith, who arrived in the world at 798 grams (1.7lbs), is breaking new ground in the theatre – becoming the first writer with learning disabilities to have his work performed on a UK stage.

Doctors discovered that as a baby Mr Highsmith had hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid that can cause damage to brain tissue.

But the 30-year-old, of Thesiger Road, Abingdon, has refused to let this stop him pursuing his dream.

He said: “This has been a really exciting project and it is just the beginning for me as a scriptwriter.

“I hope this helps show others with learning disabilities that they can follow their dreams as I have.”

His play, The Big Shock, tells the story of a young Abingdon couple’s relationship unravelling after a night of celebration.

Inspired by Ben Elton, Lee Mack and Miranda Hart, Mr Highsmith aims to follow his heroes by getting his work on to the small screen.

He said: “I am hoping we are going to send my script off to the BBC to see what they think about it.

“I wrote it as a TV script but had to adapt it for the stage.

“I definitely prefer writing for TV.”

The arts run in Mr Highsmith’s blood – his great grandmother, Josephine Laura Fanny Highsmith, trod the boards as a performer and songwriter.

He said: “I’m sort of following on from what she did. All of my family are proud of me.”

Mr Highsmith is a member of the Shadowlight Artists, an Oxfordshire based group supported by Film Oxford.

He said: “Last year Film Oxford managed to get funding for some projects. I had already finished writing the original script at the end of 2014.

“Oxfordshire-based playwright Mark Ralph-Bowman was brought in to work with me to adapt my script for a stage production.”

The artists are all working on a project called Creative Bridges, which is funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England.

Richard Duriez, course manager at Film Oxford, said: “As a group of professional artists with learning disabilities the Shadowlight Artists are of national significance.

“Their work has been shown at major galleries and film festivals in the UK, Europe and around the world.

“Their new work, including a documentary on Russell’s play, will be seen first in Oxfordshire this summer, at Modern Art Oxford and Cornerstone Gallery.”

* Tickets for The Big Shock at Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot on Wednesday, February 17, at 8pm cost £7.50 and £5 concessions from cornerstone-arts.org/whats/big-shock