A TRAGIC accident which left a man paralysed has led to an outpouring of community support.

Jaime Lunn, 46, of Addingham, came off his mountain bike on Ilkley Moor on April 25 last year, sustaining spinal injuries at C6 level, leaving him with no sensation below his chest.

After spending months in hospital he was finally allowed home on November 13 but he desperately needs that home adapting to allow himself and his family - partner Caroline McCullough and their children Florence, nine, and Seth, aged seven - to lead as normal a life as possible.

The house is not adapted in any way for someone in a wheelchair, with carpets, narrow doors, no accessible bathroom and no accessible kitchen. Access into the property is also very difficult without a professionally built wheelchair ramp.

Caroline has to spend alternate evenings on the floor in Jaime's bedroom as a night sitter. On other evenings she has to find space in the children’s bedroom. As a couple they have no space on their own. Jaime has a single room where he sleeps, eats his breakfast, uses a commode as a toilet and has a bed wash.

After discovering there is a long waiting list for help with adaptations from Bradford Council and with charities struggling for funds, family and friends decided to go down a different route.

A Just Giving page was set up by a family friend with the aim of raising £75,000. That has already raised £66,588 and today sees the launch of Jaime's Journey - a committee made up of local residents who will help project manage the vital home adaptations. Work will include widening doorways, lowering worktops in the kitchen, new flooring and making an accessible bathroom.

Apart from the changes to their home and the equipment required, the costs of rehabilitation for a spinal cord injury of this nature are expensive. Most of these costs have to be paid for privately as Jaime has not yet been able to secure any NHS funding.

The family’s aspiration is not simply to maintain Jaime’s physical condition but to improve on it. Time is pressing as rehabilitation is most achievable up to two years post-accident.

The committee will remove the stress and additional workload of managing the ongoing fundraising activity and allow Jaime and Caroline to concentrate on their young family and the physiotherapy which is vital to his recovery.

Richard Hunter Rowe, a member of the group, hopes that the launch of Jaime’s Journey will give structure to the twin projects of fundraising and building. There have been many generous offers from local contractors and suppliers, along with many planned fundraising activities and events. Richard and the group will keep these businesses and groups informed of progress on both fronts via newsletters and through social media.

Richard said: “Ideally, we want to create a local ‘DIY – SOS’ initiative, utilising the offers of parts and labour, using the funds raised to fill the gaps where required. We only formed last week and still have a lot to organise. We need everyone to know that all offers and fundraising initiatives are being registered and we will be in touch with everyone over the next few days. The Just Giving page has created a great amount of support. Jaime’s Journey will hopefully build on this.

“However, the group still need support. If there is anyone else who thinks they can help, in whatever capacity, whether on a personal or professional level, please get in touch."

On the day of the accident Jaime, a manager at Apple Retail UK and keen mountain biker, set out on an exercise ride at 7.30am on Ilkley Moor. He was coming down to White Wells when he came off his bike.

"I don't remember it happening," he said. "I came round and realised I had broken my jaw. My vision was black and I realised I had no sensation in my legs."

He was spotted by walkers and was able to give them Caroline's phone number. She was at home with the children and their dog and was initially advised to stay put.

However, when paramedics arrived and assessed the situation they called her back and advised her to come to see Jaime. Because of Covid-19 she had no choice but to take the children with her.

"It was so terrifying and very disturbing for the kids," she said. "I shouted 'I love you' and could hear him groaning.

"The fell rescue were amazing and they helped stop the panic setting in."

Although the air ambulance arrived, Jaime was taken to Leeds General Infirmary by road as it was feared he would need resuscitating on the journey which can't be done in the helicopter.

He was taken to intensive care where consultants told him he would probably never walk again.

Because of Covid-19 Caroline and the children were unable to visit, leaving them grief-stricken.

Jaime spent five weeks in LGI before being moved to Pinderfields Spinal Injury Centre in Wakefield where he spent a further five and a half months.

Jaime said: "I spent seven months in hospital during one of the most challenging times for the NHS. Staffing levels were often critically low, many of the therapeutic and additional services were reduced or no longer available and I understand my rehabilitation was significantly below par. Florence and Seth couldn't visit me for many many weeks and months and it took a lot of reassurance before they finally believed that daddy wasn't going to die. They had to grow up and take on so much more then I would have ever wanted them to at this age.

"Finally coming home was a mixture of joy, elation, trepidation and relief because I missed my family so much and wanted more than anything to hold them close and hear about their days at school and all of the normal activities that families do.

"The first challenge that we found was getting in and out of the new house that we've had to move into. It's not adapted in any way for someone in a wheelchair with carpets, narrow doors which means I can't push my wheelchair through, no accessible bathroom, no accessible kitchen and Caroline has no room to sleep in and can't spend time alone with me. I have to eat my breakfast, sleep, go to the toilet on the commode, and have a bed wash all in the same room.

"Before leaving hospital I spent many hours reaching out to charities and researching charitable grants and giving to try and help support us in the adaptations that we need to make to this house.

"With all of the difficulties that charities now face during this global pandemic funding has dropped off a cliff and nothing is available. Social care from the council is extremely limited and takes months and months even to start the assessment process. When I spoke to the adaptations team in Bradford Council they advised me I would wait at least six months before someone would even assess what my needs were, meaning that I would be inevitably housebound.

"The whole family has been psychologically scarred by the trauma experienced since the accident but in the absence of a physically suitable environment where we can live functionally together we continue to go through deep frustration and anxiety."

However, the response of the local community has been a source of great comfort for the family.

"We will get there - the fundraising has been amazing," said Caroline. "Complete strangers come and tell you what they are going to do - it really blows you away how thoughtful people are."

Jaime added: "A massive thank you to everyone in the community. It is incredible what people have done for us. It is humbling."

To donate to the family, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jamiel-01

To contact the committee of Jaime's Journey email: info@jaimesjourney.co.uk, or people can call Richard on 07876 478380.