Landscape gardener Andy Perry lost his leg after being bitten by a spider and developing sepsis. When he was at his lowest, suffering both financially and personally, Perennial stepped in to help Andy and his family find a way forward.
Andy, from Leicestershire, was working as a self-employed landscape gardener when he was bitten by a false widow spider in 2015. He quickly became very unwell but had no idea that the bite had become infected until he was rushed to hospital. The infection quickly developed into sepsis and subsequent kidney failure.
Andy required emergency care, was placed on an IV drip and remained at Leicester Royal Infirmary for a week. As the infection subsided, he was left with lymphedema – a painful and debilitating swelling of the leg. After his time in hospital, Andy wasn’t well enough to return to work but, as his wife was working, they were not entitled to any statutory financial help. The family began to struggle due to the drop in income and what is more, HMRC were demanding a repayment of working tax credit.
Unfortunately, Andy’s health continued to deteriorate and, in March 2018, he underwent surgery to amputate his leg above the knee. His wife took carer’s leave from her job, meaning her pay was reduced initially by half and then stopped altogether. While Andy was recovering from the surgery, it was unclear whether he would become a wheelchair user or be fitted with a prosthetic limb. He had to wait for a full assessment of his needs by the local authority before their home could be adapted and at this time, he was unable to leave the house unaided or get upstairs, so had to sleep downstairs on the sofa.
His family began to fundraise for a powered wheelchair to give him back his independence. It was at this time that Andy contacted Perennial.
“I was doubtful that they could help me but I was out of options. I’d had major surgery and was officially disabled. I was unable to work, struggling financially and just needed a bit of help. My family were totally supportive but without Perennial I’m not sure what would have happened. The caseworker came to see me almost immediately and things improved from there. For the first time I was able to explain fully what was happening and how I was feeling. It was a massive relief just to be able to talk to a friendly face without being judged.”
My illness meant my business closed overnight. One day a full order book, working every day, the next I was in hospital and close to death. Perennial took the weight off my shoulders, sorted out our finances and dealt with creditors, which allowed me to focus my energy on the things I needed and it really helped.”
We helped the family apply for council tax support and successfully appealed the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), getting the amount increased and backdated. We also contacted Andy’s creditors and got all of his debts written off, except for one that was put on hold. They requested the HMRC stopped pursuing the over payment of working tax credit.
We also raised £5,000 from other charities and trusts to adapt the family’s garden. With the backpay from the PIP appeal together with help from Perennial, Andy has purchased a workshop for his garden and was able to buy Christmas presents for his young children.
Today Andy can leave the house unaided. His wife has returned to work and Andy is hoping to begin work as a carpenter from his workshop later this year.
“I can’t thank Perennial enough, they have helped get me back to work and have been absolutely incredible. My wife and I are happier than we’ve been for a long time – we are able to sleep easily and we’re no longer worried about opening the post. My children don’t even know that we were in financial trouble and that’s fantastic. They now also have a beautiful safe place to play in and I can be outside watching them play.”
If you know someone who needs help, find out more about Perennial’s free and confidential services for anyone who has worked, or works in the horticulture sector in the UK. This includes gardeners, nursery owners and workers, garden designers, landscapers, arborists, foresters, garden centre staff, commercial growers, turf maintenance specialists and many more.
Call 0800 093 8543 or email firstname.lastname@example.org