‘Lewis pledges to leave wheelchair behind to walk Steph down aisle’, Derby Telegraph, 10 March 2012

From the Derby Telegraph, 10 March 2012.

A MAN confined to a wheelchair by ME has set his sights on walking his bride down the aisle after winning their dream wedding.

Lewis Jackson, 24, was diagnosed when he was 14 and credits his love for childhood sweetheart Stephanie Degg for keeping him going.

Now the couple have won a wedding package at Shottle Hall, in Belper, and Lewis has pledged to put his wheelchair to one side at the ceremony.

Lewis said: “I wouldn’t have made it without Steph. She’s been my absolute rock and the one thing that has kept me going.

“I spent years not leaving the house because I was worried about people staring at me in my wheelchair. Even when I have been depressed, Steph has put up with me.

“She’s also had to give up a lot to stay with me. When she could have been out partying, she stayed in, lying on the bed with me, watching countless DVDs. At times I probably haven’t been much fun, but Steph has been my support through thick and thin.”

Lewis, from Little Eaton, was 14 when he met 13-year-old Stephanie at Rollerworld in Derby.

Soon after, he became unwell and was diagnosed with myalgic encephalopathy (ME), which causes chronic fatigue and painful limbs.

Lewis, who also has a blood clotting disorder called Von Willebrand’s disease, was too ill to attend school and took his GCSEs in bed. He is now studying for an Open University degree in physics.

He said: “Winning the wedding is quite literally a dream come true and, no matter what happens, I plan to walk Steph down the aisle.

“It’s the most important thing about the day for me. I have been progressing really well with my physiotherapist and, if I keep up the good work and take lots of painkillers, I’m determined I will do it.”

Lewis, whose brother and brother-in-law also have ME, proposed to Stephanie, a veterinary nurse, on holiday in Tenerife last year.

The couple went out on a boat and Lewis went down on one knee to propose.

The pair entered the competition, run by Bespoke Weddings, after attending a wedding fair at Shottle Hall.

Stephanie and Lewis, who also won a photographer, wedding dress, bouquet and cake in the competition, have booked the big day for June 11, 2013, so they can save for a house together.

Stephanie, of Ilkeston, said: “I just couldn’t speak when I was told we’d won.

“It doesn’t matter to me whether Lewis walks down the aisle or not – I’ll happily push him in his wheelchair.

“I’ve always known he was the one for me and, anyway, they do say ‘in sickness and in health’ during the vows.”

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