March 8 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
A north Norfolk grandad was set for a very special Christmas week after he was reunited with his whole family for the first time in nearly nine years.
Brian Mansfield had to have both his legs amputated four years ago due to severe diabetes, which left him virtually housebound and made visiting his children extremely difficult.
But this week he and wife Peggy were driven the 200 miles from their home in Southrepps to their daughter Colette’s Hampshire house, for an emotional reunion with their family - some of whom they have not seen since July 2005.
Their festive journey was made possible by amputee support charity Limbcare, which volunteered to taxi the couple to and from north Norfolk for the special Christmas get together.
Speaking before he set off on Monday Mr Mansfield, 75, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s been two and a half years since I saw my daughter, her husband and her two children. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the family.
“I have managed to get a big teddy bear for my granddaughter, I just want to see her face.”
The reunion was organised by Colette, 39, who was put in touch with Limbcare after appealing for help through Facebook.
She explained the situation to the charity’s chief executive Dennis Outridge, who agreed to chaperone her parents to her home in Basingstoke for the festive season.
Colette, a self employed hair and make-up artist, said: “They have just been marvellous, without Limbcare’s help it would have just been impossible really.”
“I couldn’t see dad too much because of the distance, it’s always been really difficult. We were always a really close family so it’s been quite heartbreaking,” she added.
“The last time the whole family was together was nine years ago at my wedding and my dad has only met my daughter once so it’s a really big deal.”
The trip has been months in the making and Mr Mansfield originally planned to keep it a secret from Peggy, 74, who is also his main carer despite suffering from chronic pulmonary disease.
But he could not contain himself and was so excited he woke her early on December 3 to tell her.
The forces veteran, who served with the RAF for 22 years, said: “When she found out at two o’clock in the morning she cried her eyes out.”
Christmas dinner was due to be a feast for 12, including the Mansfield’s son Mark, grandchildren Amy, three, and Jack, five, and Colette’s mother and father in law.
“It’s a really lovely thing,” Colette added. “Dad has wanted to come down here for so long and mum is really, really excited.
“It’s going to be quite wonderful.”