Stannah’s first ever ‘football themed’ stairlift helps Cliff get back in the game.
Cliff Gardner was severely injured in a work accident aged only 29 – but a ‘Crystal Palace’ upholstered stairlift helped this football supporter regain some of his lost independence.
“It was an unlucky moment that changed my life,” recalls Cliff Gardner, 49, an avid Crystal Palace supporter from Eastbourne. “I was working on the railways preparing trains for painting and didn’t realise that the train behind me had left the engineering shed. When I stepped back to lean against it, I fell eight foot onto the track.”
Unknown to Cliff at the time, he had severely damaged his spine, and over the next few months his ability to move deteriorated until he could no longer walk for periods of time without suffering extreme pain.
At age 29 – when most young men are making plans for the future – circumstances were drastically altering the path of Cliff’s life. Within six months of the accident he had been forced to leave his job.
Cliff was born in Dulwich, South West London. His father was a Crystal Palace football supporter and from a young age Cliff religiously attended matches at Selhurst Park. He continued to go to games throughout his twenties.
Cliff had hoped to get better after leaving his job, but unfortunately his condition got progressively worse, and he was unable to return to work. Over the next 15 years he began to develop severe osteoarthritis in his spine, shoulder, ankles, hip and neck.
The only bright spot was meeting his current wife, Val. “She was the best thing that ever happened to me,” explains Cliff. “Val has cared for me in every way – I really can’t explain how much this meant to me.”
“Cliff did struggle to get up and down the stairs,” explains Val. “I used to help him up and down but I had to have an operation myself last year which meant I wasn’t physically able to help Cliff as much as I had.
” With Cliff’s osteoarthritis getting worse, by January 2011 it was clear things could not stay this way. Cliff and Val’s occupational therapist recommended a Stannah stairlift and in February 2011 a Saxon stairlift, upholstered in the colours of his beloved Crystal Palace football club, was installed.
For Cliff the Stannah stairlift was a ‘saving grace’. “I wish I’d got it earlier,” he explains. “It gives me so much freedom. Before I had it installed I used to fall down the stairs, hurt myself, and could not move around without my wife being present.
The stairlift has had other benefits too. “The stairlift has given my wife the peace of mind that she can leave me alone while she goes shopping and me the freedom of the house,” Cliff explains. “It’s also restored my dignity. I no longer have to ask my wife for help going upstairs to the bathroom.”
Val’s life has also changed for the better. “The great thing about the Stannah stairlift is that I can leave the house for an hour or so safe in the knowledge that Cliff can manage on his own. It’s really made both of us more self sufficient and independent,” explains Val.
“I think it’s wonderful – it makes me smile every time I use it!” explains Cliff. “The upholstery has brought personality to the stairlift and made it a positive feature in my house that sits nicely with my football memorabilia. It’s something people compliment me on!”
With Cliff the proud owner of Stannah’s first football themed stairlift and his independence greatly enhanced, this football fan certainly feels he’s scored a winner.