WATCH: The emotional moment a paralysed father-of-three from Blofield takes first steps outside for four and a half years - and now he wants to walk the London Marathon
PUBLISHED: 16:09 02 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:22 02 October 2017
It was four and half a years ago that Simon Kindleysides last walked outside, after a devastating brain condition confined him to a wheelchair.
But the 33-year-old from Blofield has refused to give up, and has set himself the challenge of walking the London Marathon - with the help of a revolutionary suit.
Mr Kindleysides was diagnosed with functional neurological disorder (FND) in April 2013, which left him with no movement in his legs and numb from the waist down. At the same time, doctors found he had a slow growing brain tumour.
But he has not let this stop him, as the father-of-three has raised thousands of pounds for charity, busks in Norwich city centre and rode from London to Paris on a handbike.
However, it had been years since he walked outside.
But thanks to a wearable robotic exoskeleton, called the ReWalk, he took his first steps in the fresh air last week.
“It just felt amazing,” said Mr Kindleysides. “It felt like how I used to walk. You forget how it feels. I see joggers running in the streets and I had forgotten what that felt like.”
Mr Kindleysides had previously used a different suit to appear on the television show Come Dine with Me, amongst other things. But that was not suited to walking outside.
“It was really emotional, my parents saw me and they were emotional too,” he added.
Now, with the help of the ReWalk, Mr Kindleysides is hoping he can take part in the London Marathon next year - he would be the first paralysed man to walk the route. He is waiting to find out whether organisers will allow him to take part.
“It’s going to take around 20 to 21 hours,” he said. “It’s being estimated I’d need to do it over two days but we’ll see, I want to push myself.”
In the suit, Mr Kindleysides would still be the one doing the walking - this was a concern of organisers who were worried the machine would be doing the hard work, which is not allowed in the marathon rules. But he said: “It assists me to stand up, it’s all controlled by a watch. But I still have to do everything, it just supports me.”
Mr Kindleysides would be loaned the ReWalk for the marathon, but a GoFundMe page has also been set up to try and buy him a suit of his own.