Edinburgh man forced to drag himself and wheelchair down Granton flat stairs for fear of missing wedding day

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He pulled himself down four flights of stairs to make sure he wouldn’t miss his wedding day.

A disabled man trapped at his Edinburgh home for more than a week due to a broken lift was forced to drag himself and his wheelchair down multiple flights of stairs because he was worried he would miss his wedding day.

Chris Purnell, who is getting married on September 24, feared that he might still be stuck in his fourth-floor Granton flat when the lift in his building had still not been fixed on Friday, eight days after he first reported it to the factoring company. Determined to be able to make it on his big day, the 37-year-old pulled himself down the stairs along with his wheelchair, which he said has left him with friction burns on his body.

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He told the Evening News: “I reported the broken lift more than a week ago. It brought the whole anxiety of lockdown back, when I was stuck in here all that time. With the wedding just over a week away I thought even if I have to crawl I will be there. That night I practised going downstairs and dragged myself down. I got burns up and down me. Friends offered to carry me on my wedding day. But as a man, I feel I want my dignity. I didn’t want to have to rely on others to simply leave my house.”

Mr Purnell was determined to try getting downstairs so he wouldn't miss his wedding dayMr Purnell was determined to try getting downstairs so he wouldn't miss his wedding day
Mr Purnell was determined to try getting downstairs so he wouldn't miss his wedding day

Mr Purnell, who has a neurological condition that affects his mobility and coordination, has also missed hospital appointments and has been unable to meet with family and friends due to the broken lift. He moved into his Granton flat eight years ago before his condition was diagnosed and has since found it impossible to get an accessible, ground floor property.

Mr Purnell pays up to £150 a month in factoring fees to company James Gibb. He added: “Since I have needed the wheelchair, the lift has been a lifeline to me. It has broken down before but always been fixed in a day or so. Being confined to the house that long I thought I was going out of my mind. What has made it all so much worse is they have never acknowledged the impact on me. I pay more to them than my council tax. £150 a month is a lot of money. I’d move to a ground floor flat if I could but it seems impossible to get an accessible property in the city.”

His fiancée Sarah has helped him get through the past week. The pair met online several years ago and he knew on the third date he wanted to spend his life with her. He said: “Without Sarah I wouldn’t have got through the last week. She has so much energy and enthusiasm. My local councillors have been so helpful too. Many people have messaged me wishing me well. I can’t thank them enough for their kindness.” James Gibb has been contacted for comment.

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