Merlin helps Crantock MS sufferer to walk
A CRANTOCK pensioner and multiple sclerosis sufferer has been hailed an "inspiration" after taking his first steps – in two years.
Eric Dyer, 76, was diagnosed with the degenerative disease 15 years ago, which affected his ability to walk.
But after hearing about the Merlin Centre in Hewas Water he tried different therapies and treatments in a bid to ease his symptoms.
On Wednesday, cheered on by his family and with his physiotherapist at his side, Eric walked more than 60 metres.
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Eric, who lives in Carneton Close, said: "It has been a long journey with some very rough times and depression, which is natural. It's hard not being able to do the usual things that you used to find so easy. But I'm lucky to have the love of a good woman. She looks after me."
It was an emotive and inspirational day for Eric's friends, staff at the Merlin Centre and MS sufferers alike.
Teena Holwell wrote on the centre's Facebook page: "I watched this with tears in my eyes and hope in my heart that this may be 'one small step for Eric but one giant leap for mankind and the improvement of MS treatment'. Well done Eric, you are a true inspiration."
He started off at the Merlin Centre practising standing with supports and then by himself, all under the watchful eye of his physiotherapist Melissa King, and doing regular specialist exercises.
Eric even took part in an exercise bike marathon to raise vital funds for the facility. Then eventually they built up to his unaided walk.
"It felt very unusual, but not for a long time have I felt so damn confident," said Eric.
"It was very emotional and we were all over the moon. I always hoped I would be able to walk again."
His wife of 53 years, Maureen, added: "All his grandchildren think he's a 'legend' – he's such an inspiration to them.
"But without the Merlin Centre, he would be lost. It is as though he has reclaimed a bit of his life. I couldn't believe it when I saw him walk, I thought 'my God, his feet just look so lovely and straight'. And we have just had our first great-grandchild born, so it's a double celebration."
One of Eric's grandchildren, Jed Lane, wrote on Facebook: "It's amazing how so much hard work pays off. Well done Granddad and keep it up."
Another, Sam James, wrote: "I'm a very proud grandson! Thank you to everyone at the Merlin Centre."
Ms King said: "Eric has worked extremely hard in his therapies. There is a real buzz in the centre as this shows the wonderful work which takes place here and the amazing people who make it happen. Congratulations Eric, we're proud of you."
The Merlin Centre is in urgent need of donations to raise £120,000 this year due to a massive increase in demand.
This newspaper spearheaded a campaign in 2007 to open the centre in Hewas Water. In March, we launched another appeal to keep it open.
So far, Cornish Guardian readers have helped raise £20,000 but another £100,000 is urgently needed. More than 1,000 people in the county suffer from the incurable chronic condition affecting the central nervous system and the centre treats up to 60 sufferers per day.
To donate, text BADF37 followed by the amount to 70070, or send a cheque made payable to the Merlin MS Centre, or visit merlinmscentre.org.uk