Helping to Get Rachel Back Home…

The Pavers Foundation has donated £1,000 to help purchase a specialist bed for Rachel Cunningham, who was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation in 2009. Bev Gavan, Store Manager at Pavers in Southport, applied through our grant application process to support Rachel and her husband, Paul. 

In 2009, Rachel Cunningham from Aintree Village, Liverpool, was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation, a condition that affects the growth of the brain within the skull. The diagnosis came after Rachel fell ill on her honeymoon in Italy, where she was celebrating her marriage to Paul Cunningham. Soon after, Rachel underwent the first of approximately 12 brain and spinal operations, between September 2009 and December 2015.  

Over the years, subsequent operations have either been an emergency, to keep her alive, or planned, to slow the deterioration of the effects of the condition and to help with the side effects caused by the condition and numerous operations. 

In 2010, Rachel showed great courage and amazing progress by managing to learn to walk again and get back to work, however, sadly her condition continued to affect her. In December 2015 Rachel underwent her latest operation. Following this, she required intense rehabilitation, but unfortunately Rachel is now more or less paralysed from the neck down, and requires a complete care package.

“Once it became apparent that Rachel could not come back to our home at that time, I began our "project". 

I sold our home, and bought a bungalow. But that was only the start of it. We needed to make it into a home suitable for Rachel, her needs, and the care that she requires. And so, we began our own "DIY SOS". We received an amazing amount of support, and as a result, Rachel was able to come home in January of this year. After over 3 years in hospital and rehab, she was finally back with me.

However, we still needed to do some final touches to make it a home more suitable for her needs. We needed to get a specialist bed for her, and I also needed a bed too! Despite the various bits of equipment she needs, we wanted to make the bedroom as "normal" as possible, such as the beds next to each other and sharing a headboard. This was the final piece of the jigsaw to give Rachel what she deserves.”

Paul Cunningham, Rachel's husband

The donation of £1,000 from the Pavers Foundation, has been put towards purchasing the specialist bed for Rachel, which was recommended by the Neuro Team at the Walton Centre in Liverpool. The bed has taken away the need for Rachels hoist, which would often make her nauseous and very poorly. Recently, they have also purchased a second bed, which will sit alongside Rachel’s specialist bed, meaning the young couple can now spend every night together.


“When I heard about Rachel and Paul, it broke my heart and I struggled to stop thinking about them. In March this year I attended the Pavers Conference and listened to the wonderful work of the Pavers Foundation, following this, I just knew I had to apply for Rachel and Paul; a young couple, whose lives changed forever due to sickness. 

The way that Rachel’s and Paul’s family has come together & are doing everything possible to help is amazing. They are now able to spend every night together, just like a young couple should. All Rachel and Paul want is to lead as normal a life as possible, and the donation from the Pavers foundation is helping to achieve this.” 

Bev Gavan, Store Manager at Pavers in Southport
Top left, Paul and Rachel Cunningham, receiving the cheque from Bev Gavan, Store Manager at Pavers in Southport.

“Rachel and I have recently celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. This one was quite special, as for the last 3 years I’ve had to go to hospital or to the rehabilitation unit to visit her. This year was a big year for some other reasons as well, and the finishing touches were helped greatly by the Pavers Foundation. I can't thank Pavers Foundation enough for the support you have given us in this project, please know that you have made such a difference to our lives.” 

Paul Cunningham, Rachel's husband

You can follow Rachel and Paul’s journey on their dedicated Facebook Page, Help Get Rachel Back Home