A disabled dad-of-two is a big step nearer to his dream of walking again after hitting his fundraising target thanks to the enormous generosity of Melton people.
In November 2011 teenagers Hannah and Elliott Harrison launched an appeal to raise £43,000 to buy a robotic ReWalk suit for their dad, Andy, who has had to use a wheelchair since an operation to remove a tumour from his spine 16 years ago.
It was successfully removed but setbacks since an operation in 2010 have left Andy in a wheelchair permanently.
But now, thanks to the fantastic response to his appeal, Andy has been able to order his life-changing suit and expects to start his training in how to use it in April.
The suit, as worn by paralysed horse rider Claire Lomas to walk the 2012 London Marathon, works by using motion sensors, robotic controls and computers.
Andy has previously had try-outs in one of the suits at a clinic in Hull run by Cyclone Technologies, a British company marketing them and training people to use them.
He said: “I can’t thank people enough. The generosity of people in the Melton area has been absolutely phenomenal. It has really touched me how people, from all walks of life, have kept giving even when times have been hard.
“I’m so excited and can’t wait for the day I get my suit. It’s going to make such a difference to my quality of life.
“It will be so special because my family hasn’t seen me stand or walk for a very long time. It’s the little things I’m looking forward to, like being able to stand in my kitchen, walk through the lounge and look out the front window. That will be like a dream come true for me.
“Eventually, when I’m ready, I’d love for all of us to go outside and have a little walk together.”
Andy’s daughter, Hannah (18), said: “The response we’ve had to the appeal has been just incredible. It’s probably been five or six years since we’ve seen dad walk but in the next few months we will and that’s going to be really emotional.”
His son, Elliott (16), added: “It’s brilliant. When we started the appeal it seemed like a massive goal. We’re so grateful to everyone who has helped and donated to the appeal.”
Andy, who is chairman and bandmaster of Melton Toy Soldiers, has now set his sights on raising funds towards the cost of his training in the suit. He’s already covered for up to four days in Hull but needs to raise up to £8,000 to complete the training he needs.
Andy has also written to local businesses giving them the chance to sponsor him by getting their logos put on his new suit, with sponsorship generated going towards his training.
Any companies which would like to sponsor Andy can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org