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Disabled man determined not to miss wedding day - despite a broken lift

Chris Purnell dragging himself down a flight of stairs

A disabled man almost missed his wedding day because a lift was out of order.

Chris Purnell, who has a neurological condition, lives on the fourth floor in a block of flats.

He relies on the elevator for his gateway to freedom, but he had been confined to his apartment for a week since it broke down.

But the 37-year-old wheelchair user knew he had to come up with a solution, or else he would miss the most important day of his life in a few days time.

This Sunday, 24th September, Purnell needs to be at his wedding, but fears the lift may still be out of operation.

To ensure he won’t miss the special occasion Purnell has carried out practice runs dragging himself downstairs.

He told The Independent: “I reported the broken lift more than a week ago.

‘’It brought the whole anxiety of lockdown back when I was stuck in here all that time.

“With the wedding just over a week away, I thought, even if I have to crawl I will be there.

‘’That night I practised going downstairs and dragged myself down.

“I got burns up and down me. Friends offered to carry me on my wedding day.

‘’But I feel I want my dignity. I didn’t want to have to rely on others to simply leave my house.”

Purnell pays £150 a month for maintenance on the flat, it’s not an ideal home since he was diagnosed with his condition but he is finding it extremely difficult to find a suitable alternative.

He said: “Since I have needed the wheelchair, the lift has been a lifeline to me.

‘’It has broken down before but has always been fixed in a day or so.

‘’Being confined to the house that long I thought I was going out of my mind.

“What has made it all so much worse is they have never acknowledged the impact on me.

‘’I pay more to them than my council tax. £150 a month is a lot of money.

‘’I’d move to a ground-floor flat if I could but it seems impossible to get an accessible property in the city.”

As you can probably imagine, the last week or so has been tough for him, but his  fiancée Sarah has been extremely supportive.

“Without Sarah, I wouldn’t have got through the last week. She has so much energy and enthusiasm,” he told the paper.

‘’My local councillors have been so helpful too. Many people have messaged me wishing me well. I can’t thank them enough for their kindness.”

[ Chris Purnell’s property is run by James Gibb ]

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