A terrific transformation for Olly as friends and family rally around
PUBLISHED: 16:15 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:37 03 September 2019
Friends, neighbours, and kind-hearted volunteers rallied around earlier this month to help transform the garden of a Newport man who has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Dozens of people responded to a call for help from Emma Murphy and her brother-in-law Jamie Millership after they decided to transform the garden of Olly Joynson in just a single weekend.
More than 5,000 people in the UK are affected by motor neurone disease (MND) at any given time; the most common of those diagnosed being between 50 and 70 years of age.
However, Olly was just 40 when the news was broken to him. He had been suffering from a number of early onset symptoms, such as involuntary muscle movement, severe cramp and tiredness, since March, and was officially diagnosed on August 7.
In just five months the lives of Olly and partner Emma have changed drastically and coping with their new reality has been littered with challenges.
"[Olly] can't really manage very well anymore," Emma explained to the Reporter, "Life is changing day by day."
Olly now struggles to take the couple's 18-month-old daughter Willow up the stairs or tuck her into bed at night.
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The family had not long moved into their new home in Newport when the symptoms began and had only just settled when the diagnosis was confirmed. Olly had plans to renovate the garden but his diagnosis means the family had to put it all on hold.
Emma described Olly as a very hands on person "who can build and create something amazing" but added that "this illness has taken away the use of his legs," making it difficult for him to complete long manual tasks. As well as weakness in the limbs, MND sufferers also experience difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, and fatigue.
Although there is no cure for the condition, those with the disease can receive treatments which help them reduce the symptoms, making them more manageable.
It was the idea of Emma's brother-in-law, Jamie, to accelerate plans to refurbish the garden, instead of putting them on hold. "Jamie wanted Olly to enjoy it for the rest of the summer with his family," Emma explained.
So, on August 18, with the help of more than 30 friends and family, both Emma and Jamie worked tirelessly on transforming the outside space into what Olly dreamed of. They were also lucky enough to receive aid from Ridgeons (who provided a 60 per cent discount on all of their stock), Homebase (who provided plants free of charge), First Call Electrical and Edmundson Electrics (who supplied the team with electrical equipment, also free of charge).
"The support is really emotional," said Emma, who was overwhelmed with the response she had for the project. She added: "You just wouldn't expect it."
The plan itself included building new decking and a barked play area for their daughters, Willow and Amelia, as well as laying new grass and a fresh plant bed. As well as the aesthetic features, the new garden will also accommodate for Olly's situation. Wheelchair ramps have been installed by the back door of the property and a new hot tub will help with his treatment. "Hydrotherapy is really good relief for Olly's cramps," said Emma.
Emma even mentioned the possibility of building a chicken coop in the garden because "the girls would love that". A JustGiving page has been set up, to raise funds for Olly's continuing care and comfort. To donate, go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ollyj?utm_term=39Vyxrdy9.