Northumberland mum appeals for help after council lets down disabled athlete son

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy sufferer Harry Thompson, who represents England at Boccia, needs adaptations to his Northumberland home

Harry Thompson and mum Michelle. Michelle is fundraising to get better bathroom facilities and permanent ramp for Harry's wheelchair
Harry Thompson and mum Michelle. Michelle is fundraising to get better bathroom facilities and permanent ramp for Harry's wheelchair

The mother of a disabled Northumberland teenage athlete says she is taking control of her son’s future after “constant stalling and excuses” from her council.

Harry Thompson, who plays Boccia for England, has been without an adapted bathroom and proper access for his wheelchair for more than a year after moving into a house near Cornhill-on-Tweed.

The 19-year-old, who suffers from muscle-wasting Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, currently relies on mum Michelle to lift him into the bathroom because specialist equipment in storage has yet to be installed by Northumberland County Council.

The delay has led Michelle to set up the ‘Harry’s DIY SOS’ campaign - aimed at raising funds and appealing to tradesmen for help install the equipment in an en-suite bathroom, along with ramps to assist the full-time wheelchair user.

Harry Thompson with his mum Michelle
Harry Thompson with his mum Michelle

Michelle said: “We were forced to leave our previous fully accessible rented home just over a year ago, which we’d battled for eight years to have adapted by the local authority.

“Early last year, Harry was approved for a Disabled Facilities Grant early last year with the work going out to tender in May. Nothing has happened apart from constant stalling and excuses.

“I’ve been in a lot of pain for the last few weeks with my back because of the constant lifting.

“We cannot accept this kind of treatment any longer, hence we are taking it into our own hands now.”Local builders and plumbers have been contacted for quotes on installing the equipment, which includes a mobile hoist and specialised bath with fixed seat.

Harry playing Boccia, he is the current national champion
Harry playing Boccia, he is the current national champion
 

Last year, Harry won a gold medal in the pairs at the International Boccia Championships held in Poznan, Poland, and also picked up a bronze medal individually.

The teenager, who trains at nearby Kirknewton Village hall, is now preparing for the English Nationals in April, where he will defend his title.

Michelle added: “Once completed, the work will allow Harry easy and safe wheelchair access to bathroom facilities, and in and out of his home, and allow carers to help care for him without me constantly having to manually lift him.

“It will enable Harry to regain a level of dignity and independence and mobility that an accessible bathroom provides.”

Harry Thompson entering his home via a portable ramp
Harry Thompson entering his home via a portable ramp

However, a spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said the authority is still willing to support the Thompson family.

She said: “We can confirm the council does provide a funded support plan to Mr Thompson – there was a meeting last month, followed by a letter on 23 December to enable actions to be rapidly taken forward for the family.

“We are presently waiting for a response from that to be able to progress.”

Find out more about the campaign by searching for Harry’s DIY SOS on Facebook, or donate through the charity A Smile For A Child, which helps disabled children and young people progress in sport, at justgiving.com/harry-thompson4.

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