‘Get out there and enjoy life!’ says inspirational volunteer from Woburn who has multiple sclerosis

Michael with his PA and carer, Leanne Fitzsimons (middle) and compere, Sasha. Credit: Joanna Cross.
Michael with his PA and carer, Leanne Fitzsimons (middle) and compere, Sasha. Credit: Joanna Cross.

An inspirational Woburn man who has multiple sclerosis has been awarded for his hard work to ensure Bedfordshire citizens receive quality health care.

Michael Hyde, 68, who volunteers with the charity Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire, received an Outstanding Contribution award at the council’s Cheering Volunteering ceremony last month at Dunstable’s Grove Theatre.

Michael, a quadriplegic, who can no longer use his arms, has dedicated two to three years to helping the Healthwatch team at their community events.

Michael said: “Being disabled, I’ve got an insight into the healthcare system and I enjoy volunteering because I get to help a variety of people.

“We visit surgeries, supermarkets, and different towns. People often need a little advice about healthcare access or they have a problem and don’t know how to complain.”

Healthwatch can put their findings to local councils and Michael has starred in a Healthwatch video highlighting experiences he’s had of the home carer service.

He said: “I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1988 but was able to carry on my role as a retained firefighter in Woburn (c.1978 -1992).

“Twelve years ago I chose to have my legs removed above the knee at Milton Keynes Hospital.

“After my operation, I noticed a lady was crying in the recovery ward. I said ‘what’s the matter?’ She said: ‘I’ve just had four teeth out.’

I said: “I’ve just had my legs off!’ I’ve never been unemployed - you’ve got to get out there and enjoy yourself!”

Michael, who retired at 65, has previously seen the world with the Merchant Navy, and has also held a range of jobs, including as a chimney sweep and lorry driver.

He has three grown-up children and often frequents The Woburn Hotel, crediting them for their “fantastic disabled access”.

To see Michael’s video for Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire, visit: www.healthwatch-centralbedfordshire.org.uk/videos/