‘Polka dot princess’: Loving parents transform home for brave four-year-daughter Matilda
As soon as his disabled daughter became a toddler, Paul Callaghan began using the internet to research disabled lifts that would make little Matilda’s life easier as she grew older. Mr. Callaghan’s four-year-old suffers from a condition called Sturge Weber Syndrome – a rare neurological and skin disorder which causes learning difficulties, paralysis and seizures.
However, he and his wife Rebecca, wanted to find a lift that was different from the stereotypical disabled lift – one that would not take up a lot of space and would complement their home environment. The couple, from Leigh in Wigan, were looking for a lift that met all of Matilda’s needs but that was modern and stylish too – a product that could be used and enjoyed by the whole family as Mrs. Callaghan’s grandfather also had disabilities as a result of limb loss.
Try as they might, they could not find a disabled lift they liked. Then, during another internet research session, they came across the Stiltz Trio Lift – it fitted the bill perfectly. A domestic lift that could accommodate a wheelchair; could comfortably carry two people and had a small footprint. The product by disability lift manufacturer Stiltz was totally unique in the home lift market.
Mr. Callaghan said: “We wanted a lift that didn’t come across as one which was obviously for disabled people. My daughter has multiple disabilities but we didn’t want a lift that highlighted that – we wanted one that she felt would be used by everyone and shied away from the prejudice towards people with disabilities. My wife’s grandfather is an amputee so the lift also suits his needs when he visits us.
“Other disabled lifts on the market tend to be built using very clear plastic which are unattractive. They also take up a lot of space so you need at least a three metre room. The Stiltz Lift has the same 1500mm turning circle as a disabled lift, but it doesn’t require any additional space other than the footprint it inhabits”.
This is because the Stiltz Lift has a self-supporting structure with the lift car travelling on dual rails that require no hydraulics. The lift is powered by an in-built electric motor that plugs straight into a domestic power socket. It meant the Callaghans could have the lift fitted almost anywhere in their home.
The couple chose to install the lift in their kitchen to make it the focal point of the room where it travelled up to a newly-built upstairs extension that comprised Matilda’s sensory room (where the lift stopped), the toddler’s bedroom and her wet room.
As part of Mr. Callaghan’s plans to make the lift even more of a centre-piece and to have it match the kitchen décor more closely, he requested the optional extra of an eye-catching black finish instead of the standard Stiltz powder coated off white colour. Brushed steel fittings were another optional addition as well as a diamond tread plate floor inside the lift.
The couple are delighted with the end result and say it has made a ‘massive difference’ to all their lives especially that of their brave little daughter, who was also born with two holes in her heart requiring life-saving surgery when she was a baby.
Matilda also has a birthmark across her face and down the side of her body means she will require regular laser treatments until she is 16 for it to fade. The little girl’s story grabbed such nationwide attention that it featured in the Daily Mail in 2013.
Mr. Callaghan said: “The lift has made a massive difference to our lives and has made it easier for Matilda. She is our little miracle and we want the best for our daughter and also to make life as comfortable as possible for her.
“People come into our kitchen and they see the Stiltz Lift straightaway as we have built everything around it – it’s the main feature of the room. Some home lift owners choose to hide their lift away or put them in a cupboard but we want our lift to be on display – it looks that good!”
The Callaghans are thinking of the future too. They have no intention of moving to a bungalow or getting a stairlift when eventually stairs become too much. They fully intend to use the lift themselves!
Mr. Callaghan added: “When we get old, we don’t want to move to a bungalow and a stairlift just isn’t practical so the lift will also benefit us in later life. It costs a lot of money to move house – more than it costs to buy a lift – and the Stiltz Lift means we can stay in the home we love, live next door to the same neighbours we have done for years and carry on enjoying our lives without any disruption.”