09:00 - 24 May 2002
Lilian Taylor first went to Orcombeleigh in January this year after a crippling relapse of her MS at Christmas.
"I wanted to have a break and feel safe," said the 59-year-old, who lives on her own in Tiverton.
"My son took me into the hotel and I knew he would be going back to university knowing that I was in good hands."
Mrs Taylor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 26 years ago, cutting short a career in nursing. However the disease really took hold eight years ago following the death of her father.
"It was the stress. I felt like I'd lost my best friend and I had no one else to turn to. With my son, I am able to lead a normal life and part of that was to go to Orcombeleigh for a break.
"I felt safe there and they went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. The place is so well run and friendly, even the fish smile at you from the fish tank. I owe my life to the centre."
Since hearing the news of the impending closure, Mrs Taylor has been trying to organise alternative trips for fellow sufferers of the crippling disease.
"When I've had enough energy I have rung round some hotels to see if they could take a booking of MS sufferers, but most are not disabled-friendly," she said.
One of the alternatives being offered by the MS Society is to provide a home respite service, but Mrs Taylor calls these plans "ridiculous".
"They will end up isolating people in their own homes. Where is the quality of life then?" she said. "Of course money needs to be spent on research, but for the people who have the disease the centres like Orcombeleigh are vital.
"Just because we're wheelchair-bound doesn't mean we've got no brains. We are people as well."
Mrs Taylor said she would focus "all the energy I have left" into campaigning for the centre to be saved.
"It's too important to sit back idle as something so vital is broken
down," she said.
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