Ribble Valley husband's three peaks climb to help stroke victims

A father-of-five is climbing the National Three Peaks next Thursday to raise much-needed funds to provide stroke victims and their families with life-changing support.
From left to right: Hannah Kitchen, Damian Kitchen, Ross Butterworth, Tim Cutting, Joshua Thornber, Helen Cutting and Andrew Thornber.From left to right: Hannah Kitchen, Damian Kitchen, Ross Butterworth, Tim Cutting, Joshua Thornber, Helen Cutting and Andrew Thornber.
From left to right: Hannah Kitchen, Damian Kitchen, Ross Butterworth, Tim Cutting, Joshua Thornber, Helen Cutting and Andrew Thornber.

Andrew Thornber, who is a director of Clitheroe textiles and printing business Woven Art, is taking part in the challenge to raise funds for a charity called East Lancs Stroke Assistance and Support which he set up with the help of family and friends after his wife Naomi suffered a stroke herself on February 8th, 2018, when she was 37 years old.

Naomi, now 38, who prior to the stroke worked part-time as a teacher at St James’s CE Primary School in Clitheroe, was left with paralysis of her left side, and was unable to stand, walk or sit up.

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Following her stroke the couple had to self fund adaptations to their home off Waddington Road in Clitheroe. These included installing a downstairs wet room and ramps to make the ground floor of their house wheelchair accessible as Naomi was wheelchair bound when she left hospital. Naomi also had to sleep downstairs in the dining room for a number of months.

“The key was getting Naomi home in order to improve her mental health and also to be able to supplement her NHS care as this could not be increased while still in an NHS facility, and being with her family has definitely boosted her and her recovery,” explained Andrew.

“Naomi is now able to walk with the aid of a leg brace and a walking pole and her left arm mobility and strength continues to improve.”

Experiencing first hand how important it is to get this extra support quickly, Andrew (47), who has three older children from his first marriage, Samuel (26), Joshua (23) and Charlotte (20), plus William (eight) and Benjamin (two), with Naomi, set up East Lancs SAS to help other families in similar situations who cannot afford to pay for any extra support.

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“The charity has been set up in order to help other local families who may unfortunately find themselves in the situation we were unexpectedly facing in February 2018. The aim is to provide urgent aid to swiftly get stroke victims who may well have young families or dependents back to a degree of physical and mental wellness to live a fulfilling life with the help of specialist physio sessions, home modifications etc.”

Since the stroke, Naomi’s care has been self-funded from the outset and continues to be, but the couple understand how unrealistic and hard it is for many families to meet these new financial pressures.

Aware of the desperate need for private urgent care for stroke victims alongside support for their immediate families and carers, Andrew and his close friends decided the best way forward was to set up the charity.

“The real pressures the NHS is under creates a potential alternative care pathway where East Lancs SAS can truly assist when it comes to complimentary, rapidly instigated focused care, over and above the excellent care they provide,” said Andrew.

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“Naomi is living proof that by providing a suitable environment to bring sufferers home asap and supplementing their NHS care with significant increases in specialist physio and after care can dramatically increase the speed and quality of the recovery.

“East Lancs SAS, through various fund raising initiatives, is establishing a significant fund to be able to react extremely quickly and provide focused, specific care to those who medical professionals identify will significantly benefit.”

To help raise the funds so desperately needed, Andrew and a group of close friends, including Andrew’s brother Michael (32) and his son Joshua (23), are climbing the three highest peaks of Scotland, England and Wales – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowden – within 24 hours.

A past chairman/1st team captain of Clitheroe RUFC, Andrew, who remains an active player for the club, has been overwhelmed by the response that he has had from people and Clitheroe RUFC’s support for the charity, with the challenge already attracting £4,420 in donations.

To make a donation visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/andrew-thornber