From Grinch to grin: Veteran turns his life around this Christmas

Army veteran, Matthew James, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004. He took it badly; over a number of years the illness wore him down and some days he didn’t bother getting out of bed or even eating. Luckily for Matthew, an old friend, Ruth, heard how down he had become and took it upon herself to help him.

Ruth says:

“I said to Matthew, ‘It’s up to you. If I’m going to help you, you’ve got to help yourself. You’ve got to get up every day and get showered. I’ll help you clean the house and do everything, but you’ve got to want to have a life.’”

After seeing Ruth’s Go Fund Me page for Matthew, SSAFA’s Gloucestershire branch got in contact with her and Matthew was allocated Deborah Maguire to be his SSAFA caseworker. Working alongside Ruth, SSAFA replaced the windows in Matt’s house, provided a rise and recline chair, and a mobility scooter.

Matthew said:

“It’s made me more determined to do things and it’s made my life so much easier and so much better. Being able to open the window and do things for myself, which I’d given up on for a lot of years. It’s brilliant, I can’t thank them enough.”

Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that make the biggest difference. After years of choosing to be alone at Christmas, Matthew has got his spirit back. A self-confessed grinch in years past, Matt now looks forward to Christmas and celebrating life with friends & family.

Deborah said:

“This is Matthew’s first Christmas in his spruced up home and it is really making a difference. It is so important to make sure clients are not only getting their baseline needs met – they also have to enjoy life and have the means to be happy.”

Matthew said:

Christmas was just another day. Towards the end, I used to just turn it into a joke of being the Grinch. But last year, through Ruth, I really got into the Christmas spirit. I’ve got a lot of friends and family that have made me realise that you need to get out and enjoy every moment because life’s short and you only get one chance at it, it’s not a dress rehearsal.”

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By @Cobseo 54 years ago

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