A mother and her daughter have been overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers who went above and beyond to improve the quality of their lives.
Tracey Higginbottom, 37, struggled to get around her three-storey townhouse as she suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which restricts her movement and causes chronic fatigue.
To make matters worse, her 11-year-old daughter Charlotte also has the condition, making their daily lives a constant struggle.
“Life changed so much when I was diagnosed with EDS I had to fully retire from my much loved job as a nurse and suddenly I was confined to one floor of my house. To help with chores and care my mother moved in and at 70 years old, I never expected her to be the one looking after me as well as my loving husband John,” Tracey said.
“I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my mid thirties at which point I’d had my two children. Luckily we were able to diagnose the EDS earlier with Charlotte although it is thought she has it more severely. She has a thorough routine of hydrotherapy and physiotherapy. Some days she feels fine and will go to school and walk around, other days she is wheelchair bound and lacking in energy. The illness means you can’t plan because you don’t know how you will feel. Our occupational therapist told us there was a 14 month waiting list for a stairlift through the NHS and even then it wasn’t a guarantee.”
But help was at hand when Tracey TWEETED about her problems while watching the Channel 4 show The Last Leg which focuses on disabled rights.
Seeing the hashtag #legup used on the show for people to suggest how to help others, Tracey took to Twitter to share her plight.
In a post on her social networking site, she wrote: “I need a stairlift so John doesn’t have to carry my disabled daughter to bed and I can see my garden for first time in 3 years #legup.”
As soon as Yorkshire-based Acorn Stairlifts saw the tweet, they reacted quickly by tweeting Tracey and asking for her details, before offering to fit the stairlift free of charge.
In a response to her tweet, they said: “Sorry to hear this. We can help. Can you please send us your details and we can arrange 24hr installation.”
The priceless gift from Acorn Stairlifts means Tracey can now sit outside in her back garden for the first time in three years, and Charlotte no longer has to be carried to bed every night by her father, John.
Tracey, from Barnsley, South Yorks., said: “I use Twitter to engage with other EDS sufferers and to pass the time at home but I never expected what happened next, I’m still in shock about it.
“Acorn Stairlifts called and explained that they donate stairlifts for special cases and were saddened to hear that mobility was restricting not only my life, but my daughter’s.
“We spend so much time being cared for at home but we were only using a third of our house.
“I thought it took weeks to get a stairlift, I never expected this to happen so easily and quickly.”
Husband John said: “As soon as we heard the news about the stairlift we cleared out the room on the bottom floor and painted it bright pink with pink carpet. Charlotte now has her own Princess Palace! A week before the stairlift was installed I had a fall when carrying Charlotte to bed, she is getting too tall to carry and I already was suffering from two hernia’s from straining myself, it was agony to carry her and I knew there was fast approaching a time where I could no longer do it. Charlotte now has her own bedroom that will see her into adulthood, it has taken the pressure off me and the whole family feels like they have had a lift. Words cannot express how this has transformed our lives.”
Dave Belmont, Acorn Stairlifts company secretary said the team were delighted to help.
He said: “We were so sorry that Tracey and Charlotte felt so restricted in their three-storey home and were delighted to help.
“A simple tweet changed everything for the Higginbottom family and although we can’t donate a lift to every enquiry we receive we are happy we made such a difference for them.”