Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Newry amputee praises stairlift firm for generous donation

The family life and personal independence of amputee and father-of-two Mark Toner, from Newry, has been transformed after he recently received a stair lift, generously donated by the English manufacturing company, Acorn Stairlifts.

Thirty-six-year-old Mark lost his leg earlier this year after undergoing four years of treatment following by a 16ft fall at work.  After his surgery, the painful disability meant the dad of two young girls had to remain downstairs in his home all day, only able to make it upstairs at bedtime by going backwards.

Mark, who lives with his wife Margaret and daughters Aimee (4) and Faith, who was born seven weeks prematurely in April, explains the circumstances of his disability: “I broke ten bones in my right leg and severely damaged my left when I fell.  After ongoing treatment, I finally made the difficult decision to have it amputated.  I was so limited with what I could do in the house and after Faith was born, I felt even more helpless – my wife would have to run up and down stairs looking after all three of us. Looking after any new baby is difficult but when you have a premature baby, everything is so much more stressful. I couldn’t support them without any freedom around the house. I knew something had to change.”

Mark contacted Acorn Stairlifts, a Yorkshire-based manufacturer who had fitted a stairlift in his grandfather’s home, to arrange a survey.

“I knew I wanted an Acorn stairlift as both the product and the company have my grandad’s seal of approval, but after the visit I realised it was an expense we just couldn’t afford.  We’d just had a baby and with so many new priorities and responsibilities, it was simply out of reach. I just broke down and then had to try and put the whole thing out of my mind,” Mark recalled.

In desperation, Mark’s wife made a second call to Acorn to try and find an alternative solution. And upon hearing his story and understanding his plight, the company offered to provide and install a stairlift for free, much to the delight of Mark and his family.

Acorn company secretary, Dave Belmont, said staff were deeply moved by Mark’s story: “No-one should feel trapped within their own home and unable to join in normal family life. Unfortunately, we can’t help everyone, but in this case we were pleased to be able to help ease a difficult situation by donating a stairlift.  We know it will make a huge difference to Mark, to the time he can spend with his daughters and the support he can now give to his wife,” he said.

A delighted Mark has extolled the praises of the firm: “I’m so appreciative of what Acorn Stairlifts has done for me – for all of us. I feel like I’ve got my freedom and my life back.  Being able to go up and down stairs independently has solved so many problems and is already making life a lot easier.  I can be much more hands on with my family which is something I was starting to think would never happen.  It’s been transformational for us all,” he added.