As a bright young man with a mischievous sense of humour and a determination to succeed, Christopher cannot help but charm everyone he meets. And it’s fair to say that Christopher enjoys meeting new people, especially when they happen to be royalty, sporting heroes or politicians!
Christopher is a full-time resident here at Chailey Heritage Foundation, living in Orchard bungalow with four other young adults. His days are filled with activity, whether working out at the gym, enjoying a trip to laser quest or writing computer code in our IT suite.
Yet when Christopher was born with cerebral palsy as a result of medical negligence, his parents were told that he would not live through the night. As the nights, days and weeks passed, the outlook seemed more hopeful. But even when Christopher’s parents finally took him home they were warned: “He will always be a vegetable.” Those predictions were so wrong. While Christopher’s physical needs are undoubtedly complex, he has excellent cognitive ability and thrives on intellectual stimulation and social interaction. He is able to communicate using a variety of techniques, including turning his head and eyes left or right to indicate “yes” or “no”.
Originally from Kent, where he attended special schools and passed his GCSEs, Christopher first came to Chailey Heritage Foundation in his early twenties as a visitor to our Life Skills Centre. Shortly afterwards, he moved into Orchard bungalow, where he has been able to enjoy increased independence and autonomy in decision-making.
Christopher’s Dad Paul says: “I was confident from Christopher’s very first day in Orchard bungalow that he was being cared for expertly, that he was being listened to, and that all his needs would be met, all of the time. This was a wonderful feeling – I slept that night!”
There are many aspects of living at Orchard that Christopher enjoys, including weight training, boxing, and playing Crash Bandicoot on the computer. But it’s often the little things that mean the most, such as deciding on his own bedtime (preferably as late as possible!).
Despite Christopher’s disabilities, he is determined to set challenges for himself. For example, he recently told staff he would like to swim underwater, and so they investigated the purchase of a suitable snorkelling mask that would enable him to fulfill this wish. In fact, this is just the latest in a string of achievements during Christopher’s lifetime – he has also beaten F1 champion Lewis Hamilton at boccia, met the Queen and Prince Philip, and led a deputation to the Houses of Parliament to campaign for disability rights.
“Christopher is very determined and at Chailey Heritage there’s a sense that anything is possible,” says Paul. “I trust the staff absolutely. I recently lost my father and my mother within a short space of time, and everyone was incredibly supportive not just of Christopher but of the family as a whole. This feeling of family and closeness always shines through – however difficult the situation, there will be a sense of humour and a light heart. Chailey Heritage is a vibrant place, and I am so happy that Christopher has been able to experience all the fantastic opportunities on offer.”
“Christopher’s carers respect the unique knowledge that I have built up over the years, while also offering their own invaluable expertise. It’s a collaborative approach that I have not experienced elsewhere.”
Paul, Christopher’s Dad