In the autumn of 2019, I got engaged at the age of 50! Jake decided that he wanted to walk me up the aisle, but after many months of me saying no, as Jake doesn’t walk, Jake wore me down and I finally said yes!
After Elizabeth agreed to let Jake walk her down the aisle, the hard work began! Mel, Kerry, and the rest of the team at Lower Hanham Road embarked on a journey with Jake to make his dream a reality, organising and planning physio, personal training, and weight loss planning. Support Worker Mel, who worked closely with Jake for almost eight months said “I would massage his legs and feet to get them warm and ready for short bursts of walking with his frame. It was very intense on his legs and would tire him out very quickly”. They would practice this up to four times a week until he felt confident and comfortable using the frame with minimal support.
Not only was Jake working hard on his physical challenge he also wanted to make a speech! Jake did not talk and at the time did not use any communication aids. Once again Mel worked closely with Jake and enlisted the help of a speech therapist. And after months of meetings and trials of communication devices, he was able to use an iPad to write his speech. After 28 years of being silent Jake now has his voice!
The day of the wedding arrived and with the support of Mel and his family, Jake was ready to walk his mum up the aisle. Mel followed him with his wheelchair the whole way up the aisle just in case Jake’s legs got tired, with the whole wedding party in awe of his achievements. Elizabeth said “I cannot cover 1% of the emotional support and help that Mel has given”
Jake’s achievements have meant that his life has improved and he has become more independent. For example, he now goes to college to study language, meets up with his friends, attends a monthly disco, and with the help of Mel gets his hair cut and shaves when needed. All of this now happens because his mum said yes and Jake was determined to do it!
This February we hosted our Extra Mile Awards for the year 2022 and though the panel had a long list of amazing stories for the “Living your best life” category, and though every one was incredible, there has to be a winner and Elizabeth’s nomination for Mel stood out – congratulations!