A campaign to raise £30,000 to upgrade the home of Uckfield’s Nick Cook, who has MS, to enable him to continue living there as his condition worsens, has passed the half-way stage, with more than £15,000 in the bank.
Financial contributions have come from friends, family and local people via a Just Giving appeal, while a range of local businesses have made contributions in kind.
Nick said: “I’m extremely grateful for all the support from everyone, especially all the flapjackers/friends who have donated their skills and time free of charge. Work is now well under way, but there’s still lots more to do!”
Nick, aged 49, was a keen amateur triathlete and cyclist, competing successfully in local races as a founding member of Mid Sussex Triathlon Club (MSTC) until 2004, when his life was suddenly turned upside down by a diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis. This is a form of multiple sclerosis in which deterioration is progressive.
Multiple sclerosis is a condition that affects your brain and spinal cord. In MS, the coating that protects your nerves (myelin) is damaged, causing a range of symptoms like blurred vision and problems with how you move, think and feel.
For Nick, the condition initially meant giving up his work as an electrician, along with his beloved sports of triathlon and cycling. Now, 16 years later, he is largely confined to a wheelchair, and is finding it increasingly difficult to move about his house in Uckfield, East Sussex, and especially to tackle the stairs, despite the installation of a stairlift.
As a result, he needs to convert the existing garage to the side of his house into a bedroom and wet room, so he no longer has to use the stairs. He also needs to create new, level wheelchair access to the front of his house and adapt his kitchen to his worsening condition. Finally, he needs to build a permanent ramp to enable him to access the sunny part of his garden. Nick applied to his local council for a grant to finance the work, but was told that it would be too expensive.
Nick’s condition was deteriorating by the week. Urgent action was needed to future-proof his house to help him live as normal a life as possible. So, a group of his friends and MSTC club-mates, led by professional builder Graham Bond, decided to undertake the work themselves at a significantly reduced price, estimated at £30,000 for the first phase of the work (bedroom and wet room). A further £20,000 will be required to fund phases two and three of the work.
This ‘Friends DIY SOS’ approach means that costs are being reduced to just 35% of the full market price for undertaking the conversion work. Work began in June 2020, and significant progress has been made, with the demolition and excavation work completed, and construction work well under way.
The only alternative would have been for Nick to have to leave his house and move into shared local council accommodation, meaning that he would lose his independence and have to rely increasingly on public funding.
“My mobility is worsening. Everyday tasks, like getting out of bed, getting to the bathroom, washing and cooking are becoming harder. Transferring from my wheelchair to the stairlift is becoming more difficult.
“This conversion will mean that all of the rooms I need are accessible in my wheelchair. I will also be able to get outside more easily. I’m grateful for the support from my friends and community. With their help I will be able to continue living my life independently, and I’ll still be included in the group.”
To watch a short video interview with Nick, follow this link https://youtu.be/SKXRDTmHwv0
The Help Nick Stay in His Home campaign
- The campaign is asking supporters to donate directly via the following Just Giving page to enable Nick to retain his independent life in his own home_. Any donations will be gratefully received, however large or small.
- Local and national builders merchant and DIY stores are being asked to donate materials to the campaign. In return, they receive a certificate for display in their premises and their contributions are recognised online, via social media and in media coverage of the project.
- Tradesmen and those with relevant expertise are being invited to donate their time to the project.