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Secret Millionaire Matthew Newbury brings early Christmas present to Norwich family

PUBLISHED: 13:20 16 November 2012

Vicky Matthews, Grace Matthews and Matthew Newbury.

Vicky Matthews, Grace Matthews and Matthew Newbury.

Supplied

A Norwich-born multi-millionaire is today set to bring an early Christmas present to a brave little girl who lost both of her legs and all her fingers to meningitis.

Property developer Matthew Newbury, who recently appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire, has 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 it is still difficult for her to move around her family’s Mile Cross home.

Her mum, Vicky Matthews, 37, said: “The changes will open up a whole new world for her. Grace is a very independent little girl and very determined but she does need some assistance.”

Work is currently being carried out to extend the Bacton Road house to make it fully accessible for her and to give her more independence. 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. There will also be a single-storey extension which will be home to a built-in shower and toilet which Grace will be able to access in her wheelchair.

Mr Newbury’s team started the work five weeks ago and it is due to be completed in time for Christmas.

His involvement came after the Norwich Evening News put him in touch with the Matthews family last year.

The family had read how Mr Newbury had become the first UK patient to receive a bionic prosthetic system and contacted the paper asking for help.

At the time of the visit, the Matthews’ home was up for sale and the family was looking to move into a bungalow. Mr Newbury, however, said his construction company, Newbury Developments, would be able to do the work at cost, meaning the £30,000 disabilities grant from Norwich City Council would go further. Mr Newbury is also donating his staff’s time and his company’s infrastructure in East Anglia, as well as his own time and expertise.

“We were astounded when Matthew told us he could make our home suitable for Grace’s needs. We were also relieved as we were looking to move to a more suitable property but to no success so Matthew’s offer came at absolutely the right time,” said Mrs Matthews, who is married to Brian, 43. The couple also have a son, Thomas, seven.

“We weren’t sure what to do when our house wasn’t selling and his offer made the decision for us - our children are settled in school, we love the community and our neighbours here and we’ve got the shops on the doorstep.

“I am really impressed with how Matthew has created this new social enterprise to help families like ours and the work they are doing to our home will make a massive difference to Grace, as well as the rest of the family.”

Mr Newbury completed a similar project for 18-year-old Alex Williams on The Secret Millionaire. Alex, however, died in August this year, shortly after completion of the works.

Mr Newbury said: “I have been in regular contact with Vicky and the family since the Norwich Evening News introduced us last year and they have kept me updated on Grace’s progress. While I was filming Secret Millionaire and working on Alex Willams’ home, I immediately thought that it would be an ideal way to help Grace too.”

He added: “So far the local authority couldn’t have done more for us, and I’m thrilled by the help and support we’ve received from everyone at City Hall.

“I am well-versed in dealing with councils through my construction business and know that sometimes it can be a slow process. On this occasion, however, Norwich City Council has bent over backwards to help me, and my faith in the system is restored hearing how upbeat they were about helping people in their own city.”

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