Registered Charity Number 514855

Melton Mowbray

Toy Soldiers Band

Melton Times

‘WE’LL HELP YOU TO WALK AGAIN’

AN appeal has been launched to help a popular Melton musician to walk again.Father-of-two Andy Harrison (44), chairman and bandmaster of the Melton Toy Soldiers Band, has suffered a catalogue of setbacks since being diagnosed with a tumour on his spinal cord at the top of his neck 12 years ago. Thankfully benign, it was successfully removed following a nine-hour operation – but then tragedy struck. Ten days later Andy, who lives in Tamar Road, caught post-operative meningitis and was in intensive care for four days and not expected to live. Eventually he spent six weeks recovering in hospital from the meningitis then four months’ rehabilitation and it took him about 10 months to walk unaided. But, since then there have been further setbacks which meant major operations in 2006 and 2007 and since leaving hospital Andy has been left in a wheelchair and can only walk very short distances on crutches. He has no feeling and weakness in his right leg, no feeling in his left arm and wears a brace on the bottom of his right leg which keeps his foot in one position. Now his friends and fellow band members have launched an appeal to raise just over 5,000 to buy a vital piece of equipment – called a Medi Motion machine – for him. It is an exercising machine that will build strength in his leg muscles and hopefully help him walk again, but will cost 5,287.50 including VAT. Andy’s father-in-law, Toy Soldiers secretary Brian Gordon, said: “He’s been involved for 30 years and is a cracking trombonist who runs all our practices and displays. “He’s OK performing in concerts but his movement is severely limited. This machine isn’t available on the NHS but it will make a huge difference to him. His neurological physiotherapist in Melton mentioned it about a month ago and said it would be absolutely ideal for him. “Andy’s such a popular chap and a carries great respect from all the members. He’s so determined to get walking and hopefully get back to work.” For many years Andy, who attends physio every week and exercises at home, has been cared for by his supportive wife Keeley and mother-in-law, Sheila. A car has been specially adapted and he can drive as long as someone is with him. Years ago he played District and Senior League football for Asfordby Amateurs and Syston St Peters as well as running a Toy Soldiers’ side in the Melton League. Andy said: “It really touched my heart when people said they were going to do this for me. I never ask for anything so it is really special. I never feel sorry for myself but once you’ve been through what I have you take it a day at a time.” Andy, who found time to organise a concert for Breast Cancer Care in January, has been recommended for other treatment in Birmingham or Sheffield using electronic equipment to stimulate his leg muscles. If all goes well he hopes to return to work as an engineering manager in Coventry at least one day a week

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