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Band of Builders undertake landscaping job

A Norwich father-of-four suffering from a rare neurological disorder will finally regain some of his freedom thanks to the efforts of a group of kind-hearted tradesmen and women.

Chris Joy, 41, suffers from Cerebellar Ataxia – a rare degenerative neurological condition that only affects 10,000 people in the UK.

The condition means that Chris, who worked as a plasterer until his condition made it impossible to continue, suffers from symptoms including loss of coordination, double vision, balance issues, speech issues and tinnitus and has to spend 50% of the time in a wheelchair.

One of the main effects of the condition on Chris’s life is that he is now unable to get in and out of his home in Cringleford, Norwich, without help, as the driveway and pathway are too uneven for his wheelchair.

But the dad of four will now get some of his freedom back thanks to the help of volunteer tradesmen and women from across the country. A team from national charity Band of Builders, which helps tradespeople in their hour of need, was due to overhaul the driveway to give Chris easier access in and out of the home earlier this year but were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

After several months of waiting, the group will now descend on Chris’ home on October 10th, giving up their time for free and using materials that have been kindly donated by various companies in the construction sector.

As well as revamping the driveway, they will landscape the paths to the side and install a new lowered entrance door to allow wheelchair access to the property before revealing the project to Chris and his family on October 19th. All work will be carried out with social distancing in place and in line with government guidelines.

Band of Builders volunteer Tony Everett, who is leading the project, said: “A driveway might not sound like much, or particularly glamorous, but making it accessible for Chris means he’ll be able to regain some of his lost independence and have the freedom to come and go without help. We were gutted that we couldn’t start this project back in March due to coronavirus, but it’s great that we can finally get there and do something that will have a genuinely positive effect on Chris and his family’s lives

Chris first noticed symptoms in July 2016 when he started feeling light-headed at work. He deteriorated rapidly over the following few weeks but it was another two years before he was finally given a blanket diagnosis of Cerebellar Ataxia in 2018.

Ataxia is an umbrella term for a group of neurological disorders that affect balance, coordination and speech. There are many different types that affect people in different ways and as of yet Chris has no specific diagnosis. While some forms of ataxia are treatable, for most cases of the progressive condition there is still no cure.

Chris said: “When I first started feeling light-hearted back in 2016 I had no idea that in 2020 I’d be where I am now. It’s been a hard journey for me and my family and has taken a lot of adjustment for all of us. A driveway might not sound that exciting to some people but to us this really will make a difference.

“We’re just all grateful to Band of Builders for taking the time to come and help us, because without them there would be no way we would do this.”

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