For the past seven years, Lauren and Beth Nicklinson have grieved for their father, Tony. A near-fatal stroke left him with ‘locked in syndrome’ - his mind is fully functioning, but his body won’t allow him to move or speak.
And this week, he took his case to the High Court to fight for the right to die – a case that challenges the law on murder
‘On the first day that we walked in the court, I felt like I was going to throw up,’ Beth, 23, told Grazia. It was the thought of these strangers just discussing my dad’s fate. It was a horrible feeling.’
Tony, 58, is physically unable to commit suicide. As such, he wants the judges to rule that if he decides he wants to die, a doctor will be immune from prosecution if they help him.
‘We always knew the opposition wouldn’t take this lying down’ says Tony’s eldest daughter Lauren, 24. ‘It was always going to be hard. And we’re prepared for that.’
Tony chose not to go to the court – instead taking to Twitter for the first time, and gaining an astounding 39,000 followers in just a few days. ‘Dad’s been overwhelmed by the support he’s gained through Twitter’, says Beth. ‘Because it is such a controversial subject, I think it’s really helped him just seeing that other people support it, that they can see he’s of sound mind too. And through Twitter, people can start to see what sort of person he is, how funny he is.
‘I love seeing his old personality come out – but it is also upsetting. The more we see glimpses of him, the more we remember what we’re missing.’
And Lauren told Grazia that it’s been hard on all of them leaving Tony behind while they went to court. ‘It has been hard being in court without him – for all of us,’ she says. ‘He always loved looking after us – as most dads do – but the tables have completely turned now and it’s me and Beth looking out for him, which I don’t think he ever anticipated.
‘It’s not an issue to us – he’s our dad. But we can see why he might find it difficult to deal with. He was very upset all day on Tuesday, as he was watching us on the news.’
‘It’s happiness and sadness,’ adds Beth. ‘He’s happy we’ve got the ball rolling now, but at the end of it – either way, whether he lives or dies – he will be sad, obviously. And whatever happens, we’ll still lose our dad.’
The family must now wait until September to find out the judgement in the case, and whether Tony will gain his right to choose whether he lives or dies. But regardless of the outcome, Lauren says that their battle is far from over. ‘There will always be an appeal process – if we lose, we will launch an appeal. If we win, the Ministry of Justice will appeal. This is by no means the end. But we hope it will be the beginning of the end of the life dad has been trapped in for the last seven years.’