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Walsoken stylist struck down by mystery illness

Ian Norris who has been forced to close his hairdressing business Cappuccino Studio, Norwich Road, Walsoken ANL-160103-173440009
Ian Norris who has been forced to close his hairdressing business Cappuccino Studio, Norwich Road, Walsoken ANL-160103-173440009

A hairdresser has told how he has been forced to close his business after being struck down by a mystery illness which has left him bed-ridden.

Ten months ago, Walsoken stylist Ian Norris was fit and healthy and enjoyed playing squash, swimming and shooting. He hadn’t had a day off sick in more than 11 years.

But last summer the 53-year-old was struck down with a suspected neurological disorder which has seen him not only temporarily paralysed from the neck down, but also suffer a series of frightening seizures and fits.

His condition has left him unable to even get out of bed, and doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn are completely baffled.

He has undergone endless tests, including brain scans, and is now waiting for the results of tests for more illnesses including Lyme disease, a bacterial infection spread by ticks.

Mr Norris said his ill-health has forced him to close his popular salon, Cappuccino Studio, in Norwich Road, Walsoken, as he can’t afford to keep it running and has no idea when, or even if, he’ll ever recover.

“My life has effectively been put on hold until I know what is wrong with me,” he said. “I just want an answer. Until you can pinpoint what it is you can’t start dealing with it. That’s the hardest part.”

Mr Norris said his symptoms started last summer when he began feeling off-balance and unwell. His condition gradually deteriorated and between December and January he became paralysed from the neck down.

The feeling in his body returned, only for him to suffer a major seizure two weeks ago, followed by a week of fitting.

“Doctors believe it’s some kind of neurological disfunction disorder,” he said.“But they’re not 100 per cent sure what’s caused it.

“Ten months ago I was fit and healthy, but now I can’t even get out of bed. It makes you realise how much you take your health for granted.”

Mr Norris said the ordeal has also been a nightmare for his wife Nina, 49, and daughters Sarah, 26, and Kelly, 25, who has worked with her father at Cappuccino Studio ever since she left school nine years ago and will now be left without a job.

Kelly is now running down the salon to pay off final bills, with the doors closing for the last time at the end of March.

“It’s been really difficult for my family as I was an active guy and now I’m going through feelings of anger and anxiety, and unfortunately you take things out on those closest to you,” said Mr Norris.

“It’s just very frustrating as I’ve never been ill in my life,” he added. “I don’t really get coughs or colds and at Cappuccino Studio I never had a day off sick.”

Mr Norris said he will miss his customers dearly, as they have become “more like family”.

“It is wrenching to have to close the business as it wasn’t just about making money; it was my living, my life. I have been hairdressing for 35 years and have always loved going to work.

“I just hope that I can recover from whatever this is and go back to it one day.”

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