A man who has been confined to a wheelchair unable to walk after being struck by a progressive disease has launched a brave battle to stand up again.
Former conservation worker Colin Higgins was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in 2010 at the age of 39 - and his mobility has since declined. “I long to stand up to my full 6ft 3ins,” he says.
Colin, from Hassocks, previously led an active life and spent much time working outdoors in his wildlife conservation role but the degenerative neurological condition has meant he has had to give up his job.
He now needs help for everyday tasks from his wife Nancy and a team of carers and has found it increasingly difficult to even spend time in the outdoors he loves.
But he longs to stand on his own two feet again and be able to look people in the face when he talks to them.
“It’s really important to me that people don’t think that simply being in a wheelchair is in itself a barrier to leading a full and active life, including working, especially with the Paralympics coming up with such positive role models.
“In my case it’s the physical effects of the PPMS on my whole body that causes the difficulties and using a wheelchair is a consequence of that, rather than it being the problem.”
And Colin is now on his way to winning his battle after launching a crowdfunding appeal to buy a new piece of equipment.
He recently trialled a ‘Genie Standing Wheelchair’ which transforms from a seated position to a standing or even a lying down position which could revolutionise his life.
“During the trial I was able to stand up for the first time in at least two years, without neuropathic pain.”
Genie wheelchairs are custom built. “We’ve been told it will take 16 weeks to have the wheelchair manufactured so it would be wonderful if I could have it by Christmas.
“Being able to stand up in my own garden again and speak to friends and family, face to face, would be the best Christmas present I could ask for.”
The chair costs £12,000 including modifications and Colin’s family have started a GoFundMe appeal to help raise funds and have already done raised more than £10,000. Colin said: “Any contribution is greatly appreciated and will make a positive life changing difference to me.