Simplyhealth Independent Living helps dad of five regain independence

A dad of five says he has regained his independence after using crowdfunding to buy a new wheelchair from Simplyhealth Independent Living.

Chris Welch, of Poole in Dorset, raised the £3,000 needed to buy the xenon wheelchair in just two months via an online crowdfunding website and is now enjoying spending days out with his wife Emmajay and their children.

“The wheelchair has made a massive difference. My original chair was too heavy and I constantly felt exhausted. Two of my children are autistic and because of my lack of mobility I wasn’t able to spend any quality time with them. Despite having a car, we couldn’t leave the house because the original wheelchair was too bulky and heavy to put in the car.

“My new wheelchair is three times lighter and I’m not stuck indoors all the time. If I want to go out I can go on my own and it means all of us can go out together. We are back together as a family.”
Chris Welch

Chris, who is dad to two daughters aged four and ten and three sons aged six, seven and eight years old, discovered he had Type 2 diabetes in August 2010 and was later diagnosed with small fiber peripheral neuropathy (damage to the small fibre nerves) due to undiagnosed diabetes for ten years.  Chris ran a sales team for an oil company in Poole at the time, but had to give up work in April 2011 after suffering pain in his feet and legs.

The lifelong Arsenal fan appealed to the public for donations but was around £300 off the target the night before the wheelchair was due to be delivered, until a generous donation from Arsenal FC, Captain Mikel Arteta made up the shortfall.

“I tweeted lots of celebrities and Arsenal players just asking them to retweet my link. I thought I was seeing things when it said he had donated £300. I would love to be able to thank him personally but I don’t want everyone else who donated to be forgotten and I want to thank them as much as him.”
Chris Welch

Chris also received a £200 donation from Poole Rotary Club and £120 from a local Weight Watchers group towards his new wheelchair.

“Mr Welch’s old wheelchair was big and bulky and didn’t fit in his car so the new wheelchair is going to make a massive difference to him and his family. It’s also very stylish, which is what Mr Welch wanted. 

“I have never had a customer use crowdfunding but Mr Welch is very active on social media and it is great he was able to raise the money. I was really impressed to see Mikel Arteta also donated £300.”
Danny Frendo, Simplyhealth Independent Living Area Mobility Consultant, who carried out Chris’ home assessment

Simplyhealth Independent Living Area Mobility Consultant Danny Frendo with Chris Welch in his new wheelchair. Photo credit: Chris Welch