Norwich-born Matthew Newbury’s renovation plans stalled after theft

A Norwich-born multi-millionaire's hopes to complete the vital refurbishment of a city family's home by Christmas have been dashed after thieves stole an integral part of the project.

As recently reported in the Norwich Evening News, property developer Matthew Newbury, who appeared on Channel 4's The Secret Millionaire, had offered to help Grace Matthews by adapting her home to meet her needs.

Grace, now five, contracted meningitis two years ago. She lost both her legs below the knee, as well as all of her fingers, half the thumb on her left hand and half the palm on her right hand. The youngster is now able to walk again with prosthetic legs but still finds it difficult to move around her family's Mile Cross home.

To give her greater independence and to make the Bacton Road house fully accessible for her needs, the refurbishment includes a two-storey extension featuring a lift from the living room to Grace's bedroom and a bathroom attached to her bedroom. Work on got under way eight weeks ago and was due to be completed in time for Christmas.

However, the project has been stalled after the through-floor lift was stolen. It was loaded up in the back of a van in the Staffordshire market town of Stone last Friday, ready to travel down to Norwich the following morning - but overnight, thieves stole the van. Now, the work will not be completed until the New Year.

Mr Newbury, who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident in 1997, said: 'We were stunned and astounded. We don't know if someone's taken the van knowing what was in it or if somebody thought they were just stealing a van and inadvertently caused a problem.

'It's a real pain as everyone has worked so hard so at least that bit of the project was done for Christmas. There is nothing we can do.'

Most Read

The theft of the lift has had a knock-on effect on other parts of the project as the team cannot finish off part of the decorating, electrics or flooring.

Grace's mum, Vicky Matthews, 38, said: 'It is a little bit disappointing but it's one of those things. The work is being done a lot quicker than what we expected anyway. For them to have done it before Christmas would've been absolutely brilliant but they are still doing really, really well and we are really grateful to them for doing it.'

Have you got a story? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email