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Couple say thank you to Melksham community

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A couple from Melksham have expressed sincere thanks for the support from the local community in helping them raise enough money to make life changing improvements to their home.

Earlier this year, Sally and John Howell and their family and friends asked the Melksham community for their help in raising £15,000 to convert their garage into a downstairs bedroom and wet room for John who has motor neurone disease (MND).

Six months later, the work is complete thanks to various fundraising events, donations from friends and family and also local businesses.

John said, “£13,000 was raised which covered most of the cost – we never thought for one minute that such an amount could be raised. It has all been down to donations from friends, family and anonymous persons. On top of that there was an overwhelming response from businesses and traders in Melksham and surrounding areas who generously donated items that we we’re able to use as raffle or auction prizes. A very big thank you to all of them as without all their support the work would not have been possible.

“The last six months during the fundraising and building works has been an emotional roller coaster as we have slowly had to come to terms with the changes to our home and why it was necessary.

“During this time the MND has progressed and I  now have little use of my arms and my legs have got considerably weaker which means that to go out anywhere I have to use a wheelchair. The specially adapted bedroom and wet room means that I can now shower in safety and sleep on one level.

“In myself I feel fine and my general health is good but we know that the MND will eventually be terminal, but we are a positive family and we all enjoy every minute of every day together it is the only way to deal with disabling or terminal illnesses. I would like to offer a personal thank you to all those that have helped me.

“A big thank you to our builder George Parks of Melksham and his team, including John Thayer and Ryan the electrician, Andy and Callum Thorburn from  Rural Heat for the plumbing work and for all their good work and keeping costs to a minimum. Likewise to Build Base for supplying the materials. Also Ian and Karen Forrester for proving the window dressings.

“Our final thanks goes to Steve Walker and his family at the Tile and Bathroom Centre in Melksham for donating everything for the wet room. Their generosity has been overwhelming.

“Being disabled means a whole host of new challenges both in home life and getting out and about. It can be difficult or impossible getting into older shops where there are steps to go up, public transport is not always easy to access and some of the general public seem to look at disabled people as second-class citizens. Wiltshire Council need to go a long way in providing better pavements and drop-down curbs particularly around some of the older housing estates. I have brought these points to the attention of Michelle Donelan MP and set her a challenge to spend some time being wheeled in a wheelchair around Melksham to bring attention to the difficulties met by disabled persons nationally. She has declined the challenge in favour of raising various points in the House of Commons to an appropriate minister.