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Andy and William’s story


William has inspired Andy Locke, housing officer at Golden Lane Housing to make changes in his life and is supporting him with a personal challenge.

“William is a very special friend to us. He is a big part of our family bringing a lot of joy and laughter into our lives.

I’ve known Gillian and Dave, William’s parents since school, we’re life-long friends. William has Down Syndrome, Autism and challenging behaviours. About 10 years ago Angela, my wife and I started to provide respite care once a month. He stays the weekend, we do things he enjoys especially walking, baking and enjoying great food. William has become an important part of our extended family,” says Andy Locke.

Having respite care is very important to parents and carers. Gillian and Dave explain what it means to them, “We are extremely grateful to Andy and Angie for the excellent respite care they provide for our son William, which has enhanced our lives greatly. William benefits immensely from the quality time he spends with Andy and Angie and the opportunities they provide for him.

In turn, we, as a family, are able to enjoy some much needed, quality time together. It gives us chance to ‘re-charge our batteries’ as the constant care that William needs, can be hugely daunting, tiring and challenging.”

In 2011, Andy joined Golden Lane Housing which was influenced by the friendship with William and the benefits he saw through the respite his family provided for him.

“The reason I came to work for Golden Lane Housing, the housing arm of Mencap is thanks to William. I have always worked in social and supported housing, but I had never worked with people with a learning disability. However my time with William made me aware that there are a lot of people with a learning disability who need additional support and care.

In my new role, I see on a daily basis the great work my colleagues do in Golden Lane Housing and Mencap to support and empower people with a learning disability, like our friend. I wanted to do something to help support this work so Melissa O’Donnell, central operations manager and I came up with the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in under 12 hours.

My training did not get off to a great start as I ‘lost’ my wife on top of the moors in the mist and rain at the start of the Pennine Way in the Peak District! I was not popular!

However, my training greatly improved when William came to stay and came out walking with me. William’s secret to good training is to start the day in a café with a sausage and egg sandwich and plenty of mustard. Also William’s suggestion of a nice coke (or two!) at a pub half way around our training circuit has been a big help!

Eight of us are taking part in the challenge, members of the Golden Lane Housing team and their partners. This is a personal challenge, although I do quite a lot of walking this is the first time I’ve done the Yorkshire Three Peaks in under 12 hours, it’s going to be tough but I’m really looking forward to it and I want to do this to help people like William,” says Andy Locke.

You can make a donation to the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge via the Just Giving page.