"Nothing is the same, not one bit. Everything is harder."
Andreas Christopheros was attacked at his home in 2014. On 9th December, while working from his home office, he noticed a Peugeot Partner van, similar to his own, drive down his road. Moments later, there was a knock at the front door. Expecting a package or a neighbor, he went to answer it. Within seconds, Andreas was hit with a beaker of sulfuric acid, otherwise known as battery acid. When asked to describe the pain, Andreas said that was impossible, it was unlike anything he'd ever felt before, but he knew as soon as it hit him that it was acid. His clothes disintegrated as he ran through the house. Hearing her husbands screams for help, Pia ran downstairs but the acid on the stairs burnt through her socks to her feet, this goes to show the strength of the acid that was used. Andreas’ attacker was a man named David Phillips who had driven 300 miles from his home in East Sussex. As he threw the acid at Andreas he said:
“This is for you, mate.”
In this instance, Andreas' case was one of mistaken identity. Phillips targeted the wrong house, and consequently the wrong man, leaving Andreas with these horrific injuries.
"It has affected every aspect of my life. From sleeping, I have to have more sleep than I used to, if not it effects my scars (they get tight and irritable). If I have had a bad day with my scars (stress, dehydration, too much exercise, too much sugar, too much caffeine) then my scars will be tight, resulting in my eyelids not closing properly, therefore this has a knock on effect to my eyesight through the day. From the moment I wake, I am without proper sight, it takes about 30 minutes to get my eyes working, having to use my fingers to manipulate my eyes to get the gunk out so I can see. Every aspect of my life is effected. Nothing is the same, not one bit, everything is harder. But I have learnt to adapt. I still work and run my own business, things just take me longer as my sight is weaker. I can't see well at night so I avoid going out."
"Theo was unaware really, being only 18 months old at the time. We made the decision for him to not come near any hospital and alas, he was passed from one family member to another. As long as he had love, food, water and toys, we were satisfied we were doing the best thing for him. It’s sad he had to be passed around like he was, but it’s given him strength and independence that most kids of his age don’t have. I have, over the last year, spoon fed him bits of information, bringing him in to the loop and allowing him to ask questions. This has been a careful and planned process which we sought advice on first. We wanted him to know fully before he started school.
He now knows that a bad man threw acid at me, and that I had done nothing wrong to deserve the attack. He knows the police caught the bad man and he’s going to be in jail for a very long time and can’t get out, that last bit was quite important because he kept asking, what if he got out daddy?
About a week before he started school, he said to me:
“Don’t worry daddy, I know you did nothing wrong and the bad man is in jail.”
That felt like the biggest breakthrough. However, sadly he associates any hospital appointment with me spending long periods of time away from him. It doesn’t matter if I tell him I’ll be back tomorrow, it still changes his mood, and I know that part of him doesn’t believe that I’ll be back tomorrow."
The Katie Piper Foundation is a charity that support individuals who have suffered burns. Andreas has received a huge amount of support from them, especially during his first few years in terms of funding. When asking Andreas how they've helped make a difference, this was his reply:
"I am a proud man who doesn't like asking for any help, however given the similarities between my injuries and Katie Piper's, my mum kept saying I must get in touch. One afternoon after feeling low, I thought I'd send them an email, not knowing what good it will do. I actually started my email with, 'I don't know what good this is going to do any writing this to you, but this is my story...' and I wrote everything I could down. It was actually the first time that I had written everything down, I remember being in tears doing it. One of their staff Zinny, who if I didn't know better is an actual angel, replied saying we are so happy you've got in contact we've been following your story in the news. From then on they were a source of information. I wanted to go to burns clinic in France, I didn't know how I was going to pay for it, it was over £10k for my initial stay of 3 weeks. I had put my car on the market to cover the costs and said to The Katie Piper Foundation, I was going no matter what. Zinny said leave it with her and they day I was flying out to France she phoned me to say she had secured me funding through an Independent funding request through the NHS. BEST NEWS EVER! My relationship with them has grown so much since then, and I am kind of like their male front figure now."