Melton ex-serviceman suffering from rare illness thanks RBL and supporters for providing life-changing new extension

Thomas Agnew (62) with wife, Dorothy, and Royal British Legion case  officer Anita Iredale in his new extension EMN-160226-144439001
Thomas Agnew (62) with wife, Dorothy, and Royal British Legion case officer Anita Iredale in his new extension EMN-160226-144439001
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A Melton ex-serviceman suffering from a very rare neurological illness says he’s ‘ecstatic’ after an extension was completed to his home giving him his own living space.

Thomas Agnew (62), of Tamar Road, suffers from the incurable Locked-In Syndrome which has left him bed-bound. He can spend up to 12 hours a day in ‘lock’ - when he is virtually completely paralysed and unable to talk or move anything other than his eyelids.

Thomas, who can suffer attacks at any time, was recently ‘in lock’ for 30 hours and fears that one day he will become permanently ‘locked-in’.

Thomas used to feel ‘agitated’ living downstairs in his home and felt he was ‘always in people’s way’ making life unbearable.

But now, thanks mainly to a generous £30,945 grant from the Royal British Legion (RBL) for an extension, Thomas has his own living space complete with a wet room.

Further £1,000 donations towards the project were also received from the Royal Artillery and the Army Benevolent Fund.

Thomas, a member of the RBL since 1978 and a former treasurer on the Melton RBL committee, said: “I’m elated and I was ecstatic when the extension was finished and my son, Jamie, brought me in.

“It means the world to me. I now have my own room and I just feel a lot more content and less agitated now. “I’m really happy and I’m very grateful to the RBL who I want to thank for doing so much for me. I’d also like to thank everyone else who has supported me and who was involved in the extension, including my wife, Dorothy, and son, Jamie.”

Royal British Legion case officer Anita Iredale: “This is one of the biggest grants we’ve ever given in Leicestershire. We’re very pleased Thomas is happy with the extension and it will enable the highest level of support for him and his family.”

Thanks to the RBL’s Poppy Calls ‘handyman’ service Thomas was provided with a new and improved access ramp outside his home before his extension was completed.

He now also has a new hoist fitted in his room making it easier for carers to get him into his wet room. The hoist was provided by the Continuing Healthcare Team (CHT) which is a part of the NHS.

His son, Jamie, who works as an electrical mechanical installation engineer, and Thomas’ wife, Dorothy, helped to put in a television and fire in his new room which Thomas can easily operate using the same remote controller.

Thomas served with the Royal Artillery from 1971 to 1978 before transferring to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps with whom he served until he came out of the Army in 1987. He served in Northern Ireland for six years and was a dog handler in the Army Dog Unit, having started his training in Melton.

As previously reported in the Melton Times members of the Armed Forces community from across Leicestershire and beyond have previously come together to help tidy up Thomas’ back garden for him. Among those to come to his aid were the UK-based motorcycle charity the Armed Forces Bikers and Leicestershire-based charity Once We Were Soldiers.

Thomas still needs some help with his garden, especially so that paramedics would be able to move him out of his extension if needed.