Tributes paid after death of man whose rare medical condition ‘turned him to stone’

Adrian Berry
Adrian Berry

A brave and popular man with a rare medical condition that “turned him to stone” has died at the age of 40.

Adrian Berry was one of only around 1,000 people worldwide known to have a crippling disorder called FOP which causes bone to form inside muscle, ligaments and tendons.

Adrian’s glass was always half full, he always had loads of friends and family round and he enjoyed his fishing and his computer games

Anthony Berry

It then gradually stops them from working.

It meant that as he got older, his movement became ever more restricted as he grew what was in effect a second skeleton.

But brother Anthony said that thanks to the tireless care he received from friends and family, especially their late parents Bernard and Celia, coupled with Adrian’s own humour and stoicism in the face of adversity, he lived for double his predicted life expectancy of 20.

Adrian was taken ill on Boxing Day and pneumonia was diagnosed from which he was unable to recover.

Hundreds packed into St James’s RC Church at Orrell for his funeral, family emotionally quipping that his home town “stood still for the man who stood still.” Born at Billinge Hospital, Adrian always lived in Orrell and his condition - whose full name is fibrodysplasia ossificans progresssiva - was diagnosed when he was just 18 months old from the gradual malformation of his big toes.

As he grew older his condition became more severe but Anthony says his parents refused Wigan Council suggestions that Adrian go to a special school because he was so intelligent and sharp-witted. And so he attended St James’s RC Primary, Orrell St Peter’s High and St John Rigby College. Adrian achieved a BTec National diploma in accountancy but sadly, because of his condition, he was unable to make the most of his qualification.

But he took setbacks in his stride and as FOP took a tighter grip, fusing his spine and neck he developed a new way of walking with a stick and with his legs crossed.

FOP is incurable, the condition deteriorates of its own accord and, if the patient takes a knock, it accelerates in the area of the injury. Attempts to remove extra growths only causes stronger bone to form in its place.

Adrian’s parents have both died in the last three years but Anthony, wife Marina and their daughter Olivia moved into the family bungalow in Moor Road, Orrell, to take over help with his care which, towards the end, was 24 hours a day and involved much expert assistance too.

But Anthony said: “He never let his ‘lessability’ - as we all liked to call it - get in the way of what he wanted to do. He made the best of a bad lot.

“Adrian’s glass was always half full, he always had loads of friends and family round and he enjoyed his fishing and his computer games. He was treated as one of the lads; he got no special treatment and his eyebrows were as fair game as anyone else’s.”

Marina added: “Adrian took each day as it came. He did the best that he could and he never complained. It just wasn’t in his make-up.

“He so looked up to Anthony and (sister) Diane and although he didn’t have physical strength, he was emotionally robust, strong-minded and clever. In fact Adrian was tougher than us all.”