Project Description

Richard’s breaking down the barriers

Leicester Mercury Newspaper

“On his travels he has done bungee jumps, skydiving and scuba diving and because he is unable to walk, everyday travel is still an adventure for him.

At the age of 10, he was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia, a degenerative disease of the nervous system similar to multiple sclerosis. He has been in a wheelchair since he was 19.

The condition is increasingly affecting his co-ordination, physical strength, balance and speech, but he is determined to live life to the full.

He said: “People with less spirit might think their life was over, but I felt that my life had really only just begun and there was a planet of opportunities and challenges out there.

“I have done things and been to places that many people only dream about. Travel has taught me so much about this life.”

Because of his disease, Richard had a quiet youth and between the ages of 10 and 18 he never went out with friends and saved all his money, which he eventually used for travel.

He said: “I can’t stand it when people, especially people in wheelchairs, whinge about getting access to places. I’ve proved there are no barriers.”

R0ichard’s favourite countries are Thailand and the Philippines, where he finds few preconceptions about people in wheelchairs.

Ataxia UK’s chief executive, Sue Millman, said: “People with ataxia achieve extraordinary things despite the fact that disability access is often so poor.

“It is amazing to see the way so many people are determined not to let the condition limit their experience of life, despite the additional hurdles that they have to overcome.

“Ataxia UK has invested over £2 million in ataxia research over the past five years. We are seeing some promising results and are getting closer to trialling drugs that may help slow the damage ataxia causes to the nervous system.”