Forest’s Chris Cohen meets one of his biggest fans at Rainbows

Nottingham Forest captain Chris Cohen visited Rainbows and met one of his biggest fans.

Chris and his wife, Jessica, made a special trip to our hospice. The couple, who got married in June, decided to support us by asking for donations to Rainbows instead of having wedding gifts. They also had special Rainbows favours for their guests. In total, they have donated more than £3,000 to us.

During his visit at the end of last month, Chris met 23-year-old Josh Hall, of Beeston – a lifelong Nottingham Forest fan.

Josh suffers from Congenital Muscular Dystrophy (CMD) – a condition that leads to him having significantly weakened muscles and impacts on his breathing. Currently there is no cure for CMD.

Josh relies on a respiratory ventilator which three years ago, became a permanent part of his everyday life following a bout of pneumonia. Since the age of seven, Josh has spent his days in a wheelchair but being confined to the chair means his joints get stiff and painful.

The one thing he wishes for is to have a family of his own but he realises it may never happen.

“When I was younger I felt very conscious about using my ventilator in public,” said Josh. “But I found that people respected me more when they knew more and they understood where I was coming from. I do still get people that treat me differently. When I am out and about, I get a lot of stares and people whisper and point.”

Meeting Chris was the perfect treat for Josh. “He is my hero,” said Josh. “For him to come to Rainbows and to chat to him about football was just amazing. I am so happy. It was fantastic.”

Josh’s parents first feared their son was facing a difficult road ahead when he began to walk and kept falling backwards. After more than a year of testing, Josh was diagnosed with CMD.

He said: “When we first got the news it was such a shock. I was given the life expectancy of 20 years but as medicines have improved, that has obviously extended.”

When he was 19, Josh started visiting Rainbows and has been part of developing the day-care service, which is now running five days a week.

“Rainbows is brilliant. I couldn’t think of coming anywhere better than Rainbows,” said Josh. “I have good relationships with everybody. There is such strong support for me if I need it and it also helps my family out. Going to Rainbows is almost like going on holiday.

“I have made some good friends here and had some amazing opportunities, like meeting Chris. The only downside is that I have had friends who have passed away but you just have to deal with that the best you can.

“I just take each day as it comes. Why fret about the past, you can’t change anything and there is no point worrying about the future.”

Chris added: “Jess and I loved our visit to Rainbows, it was incredibly overwhelming and we thought it was a wonderful place. Rainbows has such a happy atmosphere and it was great to be able to meet lots of the children, young people, parents and staff. Everyone was very inspiring and I look forward to visiting again.”