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Health & Fitness: Man, 45, whose son has to piggyback him up the stairs after finding out he has the life-ending disease, desperately needs home adaptations

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A man from Erith who was diagnosed with a neurological disorder last year is desperate for the home adaptations that will enable him to cope with the debilitating condition.

Robert Holroyd, who previously worked as a drainage engineer, was told he has Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a degenerative condition that will eventually take his life, in October 2020.

Now just 45-years-old, he received the news after a previous misdiagnosis at the height of the Covid pandemic, attributing his symptoms to a respiratory condition.

He can no longer climb stairs or carry out some daily tasks and he needs essential home adaptations which are not covered on the NHS.

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The viral Ice Bucket Challenge helped raise awareness for the condition back in 2014, but there is still much that is unknown about MND - including just how fast it progresses for each person affected.

Tragically, a third of people die within a year of being diagnosed and more than half pass away within two years, though some can live for longer.

To enable Robert's close family to enjoy the time they have left together, making memories, his extended family are raising money to pay for the necessary home adaptations which will give him a better quality of life.

"E very day is a worry at the moment," said Andy Littlechild, a family member who organised the fundraiser. "So for every extra day's going on, it just adds to that worry.

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"If we as a family and a community can try and take those worries out for them, then they can focus on just the time they've got together and with any sort of deterioration, at least they know that the house is future-proofed and they can deal with it."

Currently, it is impossible for Robert to climb stairs.


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Andy explained: "T he only way he can get up the stairs in the house is basically getting piggyback from his son, which is a whole event in itself."

For that reason, they are looking to install a modest extension with a wet room on the ground floor, to avoid the daily struggle climbing stairs.

When Robert has a wheelchair, the door frames will need widening and the house needs special handles and adaptations in the bathroom.

They live in a rented home so there have been delays while the works are approved by their housing association.

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"He's going to get worse," said Andy. "So you have the kind of put everything in now just to make sure that as he does progressively get worse, that you're able to cope with it."

Robert's speech is also quickly deteriorating so his son is helping him to use software that records each word he says so that in the future, when he is no longer able to speak, he can press buttons to play the pre-recorded word.

The software was launched by the charity Motor Neurone Disease Association, to which any spare donations will be given.

Supporting Robert is a full family operation.

Five members of the family have already signed up for sponsored half marathons, while another member of the family has designed a card to sell and help raise the funds.

Robert is the youngest of 12 children and he has been married to Lyndsey for 22 years after meeting when they were just teenagers.

He supports West Ham and loves animals, having once adopted snakes and a chameleon that he found on the streets.

You can donate to help Robert regain a good quality of life here.

Find out more about MND here.

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