Charities join force to help Heacham’s Jake face future

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A young man suffering with a progressive genetic linked neurological condition has been given a new lease of life thanks to the support of two prominent charities.

In what is thought to be the first shared project of its kind, the Hunstanton Rotary and Round Table have joined forces to help Jake Penn who has been diagnosed with a condition called Friedreichs Ataxia.

After first being diagnosed in 2009 when he was a Year 10 student at Smithdon High School, Jake, 22, has lower limb weakness and impaired-coordination.

His condition left him at high risk of falls, while he suffers with a loss of upper limb range of movement and strength, loss of sensation, spinal scoliosis, and ataxic movements throughout.

The family home is in Heacham and, until now, the lounge had been converted into a bedroom, but the bathroom was on the first floor and it has been very difficult for Jake to to get up and down the stairs .

Jake’s mother Jemma Greef said: “Over the past five years Jake has deteriorated dramatically, he has twice had major surgery on his spine and is just about able to walk with a frame around the house.

“He uses his wheelchair for outside use and in a very short time he will be using the chair indoors.”

Plans were drawn up to build an en-suite bedroom on the ground floor with the help of the specialist physiotherapist and the integrated housing adaptations team that would enable Jake to remain independent for much longer.

“Raising the funds has been a challenge” admitted Jemma.

“Relations and friends have been very generous, the Bushel and Strike have helped and we did receive a grant.

“But there was still a shortfall and that’s where the Rotary and Round Table Clubs in.

“Part of the work included having the doorways widened and now we are able to have a lounge again so my husband is busy decorating and he’s raising the patio outside Jake’s new room too so he can get out in the garden when the nice weather arrives.”

Building work began early last November and a very happy Jake moved into his new accommodation at the weekend.

On behalf of the Round Table and Rotary Clubs, president of Rotary Richard Shaw said: “‘We have many common aims and it has been a pleasure working together to help Jake and his family.”