Nick Cook, 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. Nick has applied to his local council for a grant to finance the work, but has been told that it would be too expensive.
Nick’s condition is deteriorating by the week. Urgent action is needed now 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, have 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 will be reduced to just 35% of the full market price for undertaking the conversion work. Work is scheduled to begin in July 2020.
But we can’t do it alone! We need your help to carry out this important work to make Nick’s life easier, as his condition inevitably worsens. The only alternative is for Nick to have to leave his house and move into shared local council accommodation, meaning that he will lose his independence and have to rely increasingly on public funding.
Nick said: “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.
How can you help?
1. If you would like to contribute to Nick retaining his independent life in his own home, please donate directly to the Help Nick Stay in His Home campaign via our Facebook Fundraising page. Any donation will be gratefully received, however large or small.
2. Share Nick’s story! It’s important we get as many people as possible to hear about this campaign. Please share our Fundraiser with your friends and family.
3. If you are a local or national builders merchant or DIY store, please donate materials to the Help Nick Stay in His Home campaign. In return, we will present you with a certificate for display in your premises and will ensure that your contribution is recognised online, via social media and in media coverage of the project.
4. If you are a tradesman, or have relevant expertise and would like to donate some of your time to the project, please contact us.
5. If you are a media outlet, members of the Help Nick Stay in His Home campaign team and Nick himself are available to tell you more about this unique project.
Support us in activities focused on raising funds for the Help Nick Stay in His Home campaign. This might be by word of mouth, attending an activity or helping us to resource an event.
5. If you have any other ideas about how you can help, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thanks in advance for your help and generous donations! Follow this link to the Facebook pages.