A man with multiple sclerosis who spent five years upstairs because he couldn’t manage a stairlift has been moved to a ground floor room.

Seventy-six-year-old John Thacker, a winger for Featherstone Rovers rugby league club in his youth as well as a schoolboy champion runner, said he was happy upstairs, but the fire and ambulances services were concerned there could be difficulty reaching him in case of a fire.

“I was quite happy where I was,” said the former All England Schoolboys’ Champion, who once ran 100 yards in 9.8 seconds.

“It was the fire and ambulances services who were not happy and said I could be in danger if something like a fire broke out.”

Mr Thacker and his wife, Mary, have lived at Woodhead Grove, Baildon, for 50 years.

He used to work in oncology research covering the north of England for pharmaceutical company Pfizer and did some research on the drug Temazepam in the early stages. He was diagnosed with MS in 1979 though continued to work for many years. In 2002 he suffered a heart attack and just over five years ago he collapsed in his room and has been mostly bedridden ever since.

He can’t use a stair lift because he can’t bend his legs enough.

“I have physiotherapy appointments coming up and I am to be standing up again very soon. I am very determined and very competitive.”

His wife helps with his care, but it is Vision Care Services, from Fairbank Road, in Bradford, which organised for a private ambulance service to carry him downstairs and set up a room for him on the ground floor of his home.

“I was happy upstairs but I am happier down here. I can’t thank Vision enough for organising the move that went so smoothly. My being downstairs is a lot easier for my wife too.

“The care girls have been brilliant. They are absolutely wonderful all the time.

“They come to care for me four times a day and I can’t praise the work they do highly enough,” he said.Mr Thacker says he is looking forward to his physiotherapy treatment and getting back into his electric wheelchair so can have even more independence.