More than seven years ago Jack Morris and his family were struggling.
The then 15-year-old was sleeping in a bed in the middle of his living room, could barely use the toilet facilities in his house in Swansea’s Garden Village, couldn’t scale the stairs, and was reliant on his mum Helen.
Since birth, Jack has lived with a condition called central core myopathy, a rare form of muscular dystrophy which means, in his own words, it is harder to get oxygen into his muscles for him to be able to build them up, affecting his mobility. He is unable to run, jump, and can only walk short distances and he needs to use a wheelchair.
Read more:The people with hidden disabilities whose sunflower symbol has been hijacked by anti-maskers
His experience of difficulties even around his own home left him in a dark place, but it was all to change for the better after a member of staff at the University of Wales Hospital, Cardiff, put him forward as a participant in DIY SOS.
Back in July 2014, Nick Knowles and the DIY SOS team visited Jack’s house and, with the help of countless volunteer tradespeople and members of his community, transformed his life.
Reflecting on the show, Jack said: “It literally was a once in a lifetime opportunity, it just brought the whole community together. I have never ever experienced something like that ever again. The fact that all the trades, every single person did it off their own back, no money involved and they just wanted to do it to help me. I can’t put it into words how much they changed my life and I’ll forever be in their debt.
“At the end of the day I don’t see myself as any different to anyone else, so the fact that they’ve taken time out of their own lives to change mine is incomprehensible.
“The improvements to the house have given me my own independence. I have got my own living space downstairs now so it goes to the kitchen and my bedroom. I have got my own wet room downstairs. I can’t really scale the stairs so I don’t have to do that anymore. All the doors are now wheelchair friendly, so whenever I do get tired I can use my wheelchair around the house.”
Jack also has scoliosis, a condition which causes the spine to twist and curve to the side. Doctors did not realise it was as bad as it was until he turned eight, Jack explained, when his spine collapsed and crushed one of his lungs.
He has since had 20 operations on his spine. His adversity meant that Jack struggled to get upstairs in the three-bedroom semi-detached house he lives at in Oak Street with his mum Helen and brother Daniel.
But the years since the show touched their lives have been very different.
“It is night and day compared to what it used to be like,” Jack said.
“Before I was sleeping in a put you up bed in the middle of the living room, I could barely go to the toilet, I had to have the commode, as even with a Zimmer frame I couldn’t get through the doors. At the end of the day, my life before and my life now, even though we were coping before, it has just made life so much easier, honestly.”
You can now get all of the need-to-know news sent straight to your inbox by signing up for our free WalesOnline newsletter.
It takes just seconds to subscribe – simply click , enter your email address and follow the instructions.
Jack, now aged 22, has made enormous progress in the years which have followed since the show was aired. He went onto study at Gorseinon College w he achieved A-Levels in drama, sociology and media studies, and went on to work at Land Registry as a registration officer, w he has been for the last four years. And he’s also been putting lots of effort in independently to make himself stronger.
“Due to my own effort I have been able to build myself up,” he said.
“I go to the gym twice a week, I play wheelchair basketball, and by doing that I have been able to build myself up to be better than I was back then. I’m a little bit stronger than what I was back then.
“I’m working from home now, and I have got my own workspace/ office downstairs, it’s just made life a whole lot easier.”
He added: “It’s good to look back and to see how far I have come. I find it hard to watch the episode because that time was quite a dark period of my life, but it’s good to reflect on how far I have come, and I can only get stronger from on in, so fingers crossed no setbacks now.
“I spent a long time in hospital. The final operation, I had to go into a halo and pelvic traction, and I was in that for six months. I had to do my GCSEs in that traction. They didn’t want to do the operation until they knew my spine couldn’t grow anymore, they wanted to try and get every bit of growth out of it. After six months of being in that traction, they took it off and told me it didn’t work so that was another set back. But the thing is I look back at that period and I knew everything that they needed to do they had to try.
“To be honest, I’ve had a brilliant life, I haven’t left the disability stand in my way at all, and it’s credit to the BBC and the DIY SOS team to take that and enhance it even further.”
To get the latest email updates from WalesOnline click .
Source: Wales Online