‘I love life’ says paralysed father in court fight for the right to die

Paul Lamb at the High Court in London
Paul Lamb at the High Court in London
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COMING from a paralysed man locked in a legal battle about the right to end his life, it’s not exactly what you’d expect.

Yet Paul Lamb is clear – he doesn’t want to die. Not immediately, anyway.

“I absolutely love life,” he says.

“All I want is freedom of choice. I don’t want anybody telling me I’ve got to stuff loads of tablets or medication into my body when I don’t want to.

“I want to feel that this country definitely, when I know I can’t take any more, will listen to me.”

Paul knows better than most the limits which a person can be pushed to.

In 1990, he was working as a builder and long-distance lorry driver, married with a young family and living in Bramley, Leeds.

A car crash, which he remembers little of, changed his life permanently and completely.

Paul was left paralysed, spending a year afterwards in Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

In the immediate aftermath he was in intensive care, his memories of which are punctuated with vivid mental pictures – including of being beckoned to a light in the distance.

When he came round, he was in a spinal injuries ward, surrounded by people in wheelchairs.

“I was wondering why I could not feel my legs and I remember being told I’d lost the use of them,” he said. “It was like a nightmare situation.

“After getting used to the fact that my legs were not going to work, then I became aware that I could not move my arms or my hands.

“That just about finished me off.”

Eventually he was able to go home to his then wife and their children Tina and Gavin, then eight and 10.

They adapted to life with his disability and Paul still supported his children with schoolwork and sports.

He proudly relates how he trained his son to improve his running, with Gavin going on to become a Yorkshire champion in track and field while Tina was also an English fell running champion.

The family went on holiday to Disneyworld in Florida after he returned home, fulfilling a promise he had made to his son before the accident and was determined to keep.

That meant his wife having to take over personal care – a decision he now says was “a mistake”.

The couple remained together while their children grew into adults, but divorced in 2009.

Paul, now 58, is looked after by a team of carers, still at his home in Bramley.

But it’s not just the paralysis which makes his life so difficult.

A hospital accident left him with a dislocated shoulder which has never been remedied.

He lives with the “constant source of pain” and for the agonising nerve pain he also suffers from by relying on the strongest painkillers available.

The pain, and the pressure sores he has more recently become afflicted with, often confine him to bed.

Through everything, however, Paul’s will has remained strong and now he has dedicated all of his mental strength to changing the law on assisted suicide.

Along with the widow of 
Tony Nicklinson, who had started the case before his death last year, he is awaiting the decision of the highest court in the country.

Paul said: “I am a natural fighter and as much as things get me down, I will always fight as long as I can.”

He says his children Gavin and Tina, who are now 34 and 32 and have children of their own, understand.

“They know what I’m trying to do, and they’re proud of me for taking it up.

“They know what my nature is, and if anybody has got the strength to do it, it’s me.”

And despite hoping for a ruling that would allow someone to 
assist him to end his life, he says: “I can still enjoy life, but it’s limited with the pain all the time,” he said.

“I’m not saying as soon as it’s agreed, I would go through with it. I won’t.

“This is about recognising the ultimate right of a person.”