Posted: 17.07.20 at 18:23 by The Editor
On Monday, Nigel Hughes, a retired Traffic Police Officer living with MS, walked 36 metres out of his mile target as he raised money for Woody’s lodge.
Kath Fisher, who volunteers at the lodge, arranged for two police officers to help mark the special occasion along with their family and friends.
Usually, Nigel walks around 12 metres a day but was able to push himself to achieve three times that whilst those around him cheered him on.
He has currently got 375 metres left to go so is over three-quarters of the way there.
Nigel lives with multiple sclerosis and every day walking just one step is becoming a challenge so attempting to walk 1 mile could be a lifetime ambition now.
His main goal has been raising money for Woody’s Lodge which helps by supporting, mentoring and signposting veterans, emergency services, reservists, and their families.
We sat down with Nigel and his wife and full-time Carer Karen to talk about the fundraising; the challenges that they face as a family; and, the lifeline provided by Woody’s Lodge.
Karen explained “There have been so many different layers for Nigel. It isn’t an age thing, it isn’t that he can’t think or doesn’t know what’s going on. The MS is very aggressive and has affected his mobility despite being a strong and active person for so long.
The money for Woody’s and raising awareness is obviously a driving force for Nigel to complete this mile walk but it’s also about inspiring other people to achieve.
“It started out as us raising a bit of money, but it has developed into so much more than that.
“He’s showing people with walking disabilities, or any disability in fact, that you can do things that aren’t considered possible.
“So many people don’t realise how lucky they are just getting up in the morning and being able to put their socks on or walk to the toilet. We take it all for granted.
“I think there are a lot of people with mental health issues that are more in tune with what Nigel is going through because with mental health, I’m learning more and more, they might physically be able to get up and walk but they are so depressed that they can’t get out of bed.
Nigel added: “It’s the fatigue and the mental torture that’s frustrating. I know exactly how to do these things like walk and move and I know what needs to be done but I just can’t.
Spending time at Woody’s has also enabled him to reconnect with old work colleagues. It was an emotional moment for Nigel seeing so many people around to support him.
He said: “With everyone here it is lovely, because on the bikes you are a loner. I was on my own and independent. I didn’t really keep in touch with people but now that has all changed.”
Karen added: “Woody’s is brilliant because it’s helped us regain connections with people from Nigel’s work. Nigel was the first emergency service member that they took on.”.
This support came about after Nigel’s health deteriorated. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2015, which he has since beaten, but it had a worsening effect on his MS.
Karen said: “Our life had completely shrunk, and we weren’t going out at all. There were just so many reasons why we stopped. I thought, this is going to drive us sick.
“I said if there was somewhere we could go which isn’t only a place for elderly people or people with mental disabilities that would be amazing. Woody’s had just started up but was only for veterans at the time before a council worker got in touch with them and they took Nigel on.
“It works so well because Nigel doesn’t feel like the disabled person. They can all sit and talk to each other and appreciate that there are others that are worse off as well as helping each other through those difficult times.
Nigel explained: “The thing is even though I’m just a policeman, it got to a stage when I went to Woody’s that I could talk about what I’ve been through and what I’ve seen. All of the lads here have dealt with fatal wound accidents and in my time, I had to tell families that tragedies had happened and witness terrible incidents.
Karen said: “It’s the only place Nigel was going out anymore. It is near enough the only reason he leaves the house other than for appointments and the doctors.”
Sian Woodland started the charity in memory of her husband and local Royal Marine, Paul Woodland, who died in a tragic training accident.
She said: ‘’It has been closed during the coronavirus lockdown, but we have kept in touch with everyone through social media and Zoom calls. We have two weekly Zoom calls with our isolated veterans.
“We have three veterans who are shielding who this will be particularly difficult for and we are arranging to give them tablets so we can communicate with them more easily.”
Coronavirus has shone a light on the hardships many face on a day to day basis. Mental health issues are being highlighted and communities have come together to help vulnerable residents.
Karen added: “At the beginning of lockdown Nigel said, ‘welcome to my world’. People don’t realise how many people with disabilities and mental health issues have to deal with this every single day. There is an end in sight with coronavirus but not for everyone.”
To date he has currently raised an astounding £6,956.13 you can donate to his cause here.