Paralysed Former Soldier Completes Seven-Hour Daredevil Challenge

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An ex-soldier defied the odds by climbing up Pendle Hill in Lancashire, dragging his wheelchair behind him in a long seven-hour challenge.

Former soldier, Kirk Mount (28), was left paralysed from the waist down after a routine operation to fix his back went wrong. However, the dad-of-two from Elizabeth Court, Padiham, refused to let his disability prevent him from doing the things he likes, and was determined to take on this challenge not only for himself, but in the hopes of inspiring other wheelchair users.

Kirk joined the Army at aged 18 and successfully served until 2012 with 40 Regiment. He needed surgery to pin cracked vertebrae in his back, but during his operation in 2014 his spinal cord was damaged and after spending another 16 hours in surgery, he was left paralysed from the waist down.

Despite his physical limitations, Kirk took on the gruelling seven-hour challenge to climb Pendle Hill, and his inspirational efforts were captured on video. The film of his astonishing feat has been viewed online more than 22,000 times, and since the event he has been inundated with messages of support from people all over the world.

After completing the challenge, Kirk explained that the climb was mainly done on his hands and knees and with the aid of two walking sticks. While he set out to challenge himself and to inspire others, he never expected the video of his feat to go viral.

In an interview with local press, Kirk Commented, “It’s amazing isn’t it for a small bloke from Burnley? It’s been shared across the pond, I’ve had messages from people in Niagara Falls and in New Zealand. People see the wheelchair, they don’t really see the person in the wheelchair and they discriminate against it. That’s why I went up Pendle dragging the wheelchair behind me. It’s a big part of my life but on the video you see me doing something, not necessarily the wheelchair.”

The determined and driven ex-Royal Artillery gunner said his mind is already on his next challenge, and with him already enjoying such activities as off-roading on Pendle Hill and wheelchair cliff diving, it is hard to know what exciting challenge this daredevil will take on next!

Kirk has proven that he is not afraid to take on a challenge, and since becoming paralysed he has still managed to master other hobbies like horse riding, archery, shooting, swimming, wood trekking and racing over beach sand dunes.

The decision to climb Pendle, where Kirk was supported by his girlfriend Lisa Holden, was made on the spur of the moment, and he said that with each step of his improvement, he will take on more challenging tasks. Pendle Hill came up in conversation, and he then decided he would get up to the top no matter what.

Kirk commented, “It was more crawling than walking and it was really slippery. I had to keep stopping for a rest. After two minutes I was ready to quit and I thought what the hell am I doing. But I carried on and I’m 100% glad I did it.”

He believes he will need a good couple of weeks of rest to recover fully from his exhausting climb, but that will give him enough time to think about what his next challenge is going to be.

Lego Promotes Equality By Producing Their First Every Mini-figure In A Wheelchair

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The Nuremberg toy fair will be a memorable one this year because the LEGO company revealed a wheelchair-using Lego figurine, complete with helper dog, for the first time in their history, following the #ToyLikeMe equality campaign.

The LEGO figurine was also spotted at the London Toy Fair, and features a beanie-hatted character sitting in a wheelchair, alongside a helper dog. This was one of a new range of mini-figures to be released by the company this year, which also includes an ice-cream vendor, cyclist, picnickers and other characters, in a new park scene developed using bricks from the company’s City range.

This step forward is quite a significant move on their part as it comes after sharp criticism that was levelled at the company for their lack of diversity within their range, as well as their mini-figures. With the launch last year of the equality campaign, #ToyLikeMe, which gained over 20,000 signatures on a Change.org petition, LEGO and other major toy and game producers have started to introduce a wide range of more diverse characters to their offerings.

After an article published in the Guardian newspaper last year by Rebecca Atkinson asked the question, “Why do you never see a Lego mini-figure with a disability?” LEGO stepped up their efforts to produce the wheelchair bound character.

The Guardian article pointed out that LEGO was continuing to exclude around 150 million disabled children worldwide by not including characters with disabilities, and that they should use their power of influence to change cultural perceptions, and that the issue goes beyond their sales figures or disability access.

After the initial call for a change to their range, LEGO at first appeared to resist the appeal, and instead spoke about the ability that children had to use their pieces how they chose, and were able to build their own stories. However, they later seemed to do an about-turn on the subject, and as a result went on to produce the new wheelchair bound character, along with their assistance dog.

On hearing the news about the new mini-figure, the organisers of the #ToyLikeMe campaign were overjoyed, and wrote on their campaign page: “We’ve got genuine tears of joy right now … Lego have just rocked our brick-built world!” They went on to say on Twitter that this was a momentous occasion, and that the message behind it was far bigger than simply a tiny one-inch-tall plastic figure.

The introduction of the wheelchair mini-figure by LEGO comes as welcome news that has many disability groups and advocates cheering. The new figure made it’s debut at both the Nuremberg and London toy fairs this month, and is set for general release to the public this summer.

As Thursday 4th February is International Lego Day, it could be seen as a well-timed addition to the LEGO family, but fans will still have to wait a bit longer to actually get their hands on the new mini-figure.

This news comes at a time where long-time favourite toy doll ‘Barbie’ saw a makeover. The new range of dolls to hit the shops show a wide range of different body shapes, hair types and eye-colour in an effort to help children identify better with the doll. Maybe their could be more to come in the future that include dolls featuring disabilities? We shall have to wait and see.

Mobility Scooters Set To Get More Disabled People Enjoying The Malvern Hills

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A new set of plans are being put in motion for a mobility scooter project that aims to help disabled people to get roving around the Malvern Hills. The plan is to provide mobility scooters to allow disabled people easier access to the area, where they may have been denied access before.

The organisers of the project have carried out a routine assessment by taking to the hills riding two mobility scooters on the Worcestershire Beacon, which is the highest point of the hills.

The plan came about when Dr Adrian Burden, founder of the Wyche Innovation Centre, thought it would be good for local residents and visitors who had restricted mobility to have better access the the Worcestershire Beacon.

As the Innovation Centre is close to some of the most popular visitor spots on the hills, and contains the Malvern Hills GeoCentre, and Cafe H2O, it wasn’t difficult for Dr Burden to motivate the centre staff , now named ‘Team Jamboree’, to start raising funds to buy a mobility scooter.

When speaking to local press, Dr Burden said: “The intended route would enable residents and visitors of the Malvern Hills with restricted mobility or a disability to travel up to the Worcestershire Beacon whilst accompanied by a friend or family member. This initiative will help more people access the Malvern Hills and enjoy the fresh air and fantastic views on offer.”

He also commented that there has been enthusiastic support from the Malvern Hills Conservators, the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Disabled Ramblers.

Dr Burden’s team are now working closely with Countryside Mobility, a project of Living Options Devon, who have experience in providing mobility scooters to various attractions in the UK.

The recent route assessment conducted using two mobility scooters to test the terrain was a very important part of an access audit and risk assessment to measure what routes would be suitable for access, and whether anything major needs addressing before allowing the scooter service to be offered.

Following the route assessment, Dr Burden stated that the following weeks would see the project reviewing the risk assessment findings, and looking at recommendations. The team hope their plans are feasible, and will do everything they can to make it happen. More details of the project will be released once the feasibility studies have been completed.

The Malvern Hills has been hitting the local headlines because of the controversial proposal to build a cable car system that would run down the side of the Worcestershire Beacon. The mobility scooter project idea was sparked off in part because of a debate arising from this issue regarding disabled access to the Malvern Hills.

The hills are largely accessible for disabled visitors given the appropriate mobility aids, and the Disabled Ramblers charity have been successfully organising rambles over almost the whole length of the Malvern Hills for years. It has been the aim of the Conservators to keep the hills open to all, so this mobility scooter project will be another very welcome way to give access to the breathtaking scenery and countryside for those less mobile.

Mobility Scooter Transformation Benefits Charity

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A 73 year old Grandad turned his mobility scooter into the famous Coca-Cola Christmas truck to help raise funds for a cancer charity.

Pensioner, Barrie Hall, has managed to raise thousands of pounds in aid of the Cancer Research charity by painstakingly transforming his mobility scooter to look just like the iconic Coca-Cola truck as seen in television adverts at Christmas time.

It took Barrie a total of eight months to convert his second-hand scooter, at a cost of around £400. The 7mph top speed disability scooter was transformed using parts bought off the internet shopping site eBay, and comes complete with a festive picture of Father Christmas holding a bottle fizzy pop. Barrie even festooned the sides of the scooter-come-truck with red-and-white flashing lights to look like the ones used on the real truck.

Once Barrie had completed his ten-wheeled miniature version of the truck, he took to the streets of his home town and county around Lincolnshire raising funds for Cancer Research. So far his fund raising efforts have collected over £3,500 and he hasn’t stopped yet!

Barrie retired from taxi driving a year ago, and has fought his own battle with Leukaemia over the past five years. His late wife Susan also died from mouth cancer back in 2010 at the age of 68, so he has been no stranger to the horrible disease.

Driven by his desire to raise money for Cancer Research, Barrie converted his late wife’s mobility scooter into the iconic Coca-Cola truck as a novel way to raise funds.

Last Christmas Barrie decorated the scooter to look like Santa’s Sleigh, but this year he was determined to do something much bigger. The miniature replica truck design has been a big hit with local children, and lots of people have been talking about it which helped spread the word around. Barrie even had local police officers having photographs taken with him and his scooter conversion. He commented to the local press that the response has been overwhelming, and it has made him feel like a celebrity despite only wanting to do something good for charity.

The idea for the mobility scooter conversion was initially so grand that Barrie didn’t think he could ever get it off the ground, but after approaching Coca-Cola with his novel idea, he was given the go-ahead by them and the project was set in motion. Barrie also approached businesses for their help, and all his efforts are helping to raise awareness of Leukaemia as well as raising money for essential research.

Santa Dash Challenge Sees Jacob Ditch his Wheelchair

Brave teenager, Jacob Hunter, ditched his wheelchair to take on a Santa Dash despite suffering from cerebral palsy.

Jacob, from Bolton-on-Dearne, completed his dash just a few days before his 18th birthday, and even managed to cross the finish line in just 39 minutes. Jacob has limited mobility that means he sometimes relies on his wheelchair to get around, but was determined that he would walk the one mile route that was held at Clifton Park in Rotherham on Sunday.

Heidi Hunter, the teenager’s proud mother said during an interview with local press, “I’m very proud of him. It has been such an emotional day in so many ways. Watching Jacob reach his own goal was amazing. I am still speechless at how quickly he did it. Thank you from the bottom of both our hearts. We are just two normal people helping raise money for a good cause.”

The Santa Dash event was organised in aid of the Rotherham Hospice, and has become an annual event. This year it was run on the 13th December, and even though Jacob had originally set himself a target amount of £200 to raise, he has actually far surpassed this figure and managed to raise £415 so far.

Jacob said in an interview with local press, “I enjoyed every minute of the Santa Dash today at Clifton Park. I would just like to say a big thank you to my wonderful mum for putting my name down. I would just like to say a big thank you to all my friends and family for sponsoring me – I really appeciate it. I didn’t think that I would be able to walk one mile round Clifton Park but I did it and I’m very proud of myself. I’m definitely going to do it again next year. I loved every minute of it.”

The annual event organised by Rotherham Hospice sets the scene for hundreds of people dressed up as Santa to complete a one-mile dash around Clifton Park. Everyone taking part is sponsored, and all the money collected goes towards paying for care for the hospice patients and their families. The hospice is only part funded through the NHS, so it has to rely on fundraising events such as the Santa Dash to raise the extra funds needed to keep the hospice running and to continue to provide free care for the patients.

The Santa Dash is open to all ages, and everyone that takes part is awarded with a commemorative medal on completion. Whole families can take part if they wish, and you don’t have to run the mile-long course if you are not up to it, instead you can jog, dash or stroll around at your own pace, and your registration fee even includes a free Santa suit so entrants can dress up just like Santa.

If you would like to donate to Jacobs challenge, see www.justgiving.com/Jacob-Hunter

Police Launch Mobility Scooter Safety Event In Manchester

Due to the alarming rise in accidents involving mobility scooters in recent years, Greater Manchester Police organised a mobility scooter awareness session on 4th December.

The session took place at Clayton Brook, and was open to anybody who already used a scooter and for those who are considering buying one.

Police officers were available all day to offer practical advice and guidance on road safety aspects of riding mobility scooters, as well as giving users practical exercises and practice sessions to inexperienced riders using scooters without the extra hazards of pedestrians and moving traffic.

According to research figures, there have been 15 reported incidents over the past five years that involved mobility scooters, five of which were fatal – four of those occurring in the past two years alone, two serious injuries and eight slight injuries.

This pilot session run by the Greater Manchester Police, was held with the hope of more being run in the future to better enable mobility scooter users keep safe on the roads and avoid accidents.

Inspector Susan Redfern from the Roads Policing Unit in Chadderton commented in a press interview with Rochdale Online: “Mobility scooters offer users a sense of freedom and while we do not want to discourage people from using them, we do want to ensure that they are used safely.

“We are finding that many mobility scooter users haven’t driven in years, if at all, and their knowledge of the Highway Code is therefore limited.

“By taking a bit of time to familiarise themselves with the rules of the road, users will have more confidence to enjoy the outside world and we can hopefully reduce the number of collisions.”

While there will always be a level of risk associated with any form of motorised transport, it is helpful that Manchester Police are trying to raise awareness of the dangers of using mobility scooters, and want to help reduce those risks by offering some common sense training to anyone considering using a scooter for the first time, as well as helping existing users become more familiar with potential hazards they may encounter while out and about on the roads.

Mobility scooters offer disabled people a great opportunity for a better quality of life, so courses like these can help scooter users become more confident while out and about, while alerting them to potential dangers, and ways to avoid accidents along the way.

Greater Manchester Police are not the only force to offer safety help and guidance for mobility scooter users. Many areas are now getting involved in raising awareness, such as Norfolk Constabulary, who in partnership with Halfords, has also launched a scheme called Safe Scoot to help raise awareness of safety issues.

Safe Scoot was launched at the Royal Norfolk Show back in 2010. It was set up as a best practice guide to running awareness courses, and even enlisted popular Benidorm actress Sheila Reid to star in a short film they made as part of the scheme.

As a result of the Norfolk Constabulary’s pilot scheme their Crime Prevention Officers are now advising the Government’s Transport Committee on how best to address mobility scooter safety issues.

Wheelchair users ‘ignored by bus drivers’

A charity has spoken out about many disabled wheelchair users struggling to board buses and being left behind at bus stops.

The Leonard Cheshire Disability charity conducted a survey amongst 179 wheelchair users and found that most had said they had been either turned away when buses are busy, or had been refused a space on a bus.

It was found that two-thirds of the people surveyed had been denied access due to ramps not working, or were missing. It was also revealed that 61% were often faced with pushchairs occupying the wider spaces made for wheelchairs on a bus.

As well as experiencing accessibility problems, those surveyed also reported that they had suffered from intimidation and and rudeness from a driver, while nearly half had experienced the same from bus passengers. At least one in ten had difficulties every time they attempted to board a bus, while just over 40% said they experienced problems every other time they travelled by bus.

Wheelchair users are particularly prone to difficulties when trying to use bus services, especially as there is no law to say that bus companies must give wheelchair users the wide spaces on buses, or even insist that buggies and prams be moved to accommodate them.

As well as conducting the survey, Leonard Cheshire Disability also looked at the main bus companies in operation across the UK to assess their level of knowledge and provision in regard to disability issues. They looked at areas such as disability awareness training for drivers, the use of low-floor buses, checking conditions of carriage for mention of wheelchair users, and priority of use for wheelchair space.

Out of the bus companies studied, the results showed that Go Ahead and Stagecoach came out on top with each reaching a score of 17 out of a maximum 20 points. Arriva and First Bus came in at 14 points, and National Express scored just 10 out of 20.

In an interview, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, Clare Pelham commented: “It’s great that we have regulations coming in the next year for single decker buses and 2017 for double decker buses to make them all properly accessible for wheelchair users.”

She also added: “For so many wheelchair users, the bus is their only way to get to work, to get to the doctor or simply get to the shops. It’s time that drivers get the training they need to do the right thing.”

One wheelchair user in London will welcome in the new regulations, as she reported her negative experiences to The Richmond and Twickenham Times in an attempt to highlight the difficulties experienced by disabled bus travellers every day across London.

21-year-old Clare Watson, who has a neurological condition that left her wheelchair-bound four years ago, stated that she felt humiliated on a daily basis by being denied access to buses by drivers who refuse to lower their ramps to allow her on board.

In her interview she commented: “It’s a horrible feeling when that happens – you feel worthless and everybody stares. It’s humiliating.”

Clare also stated that many drivers gave excuses for not letting her on such as buggies taking up the wheelchair space, or the ramps not working properly, despite there being a policy in place to check ramps before the buses leave the depot.

Let’s hope that the new regulations will make bus travel more accessible for wheelchair users, and that the necessary changes are actioned on sooner rather than later.

Golf Course makes a U-Turn on ban regarding mobility scooters

Beverley pasture masters golf course near Hull, earlier this year placed a ban on the use of motorised vehicles on the course, including golf buggies and mobility scooters. You may remember the article we wrote on it.

However, after receiving a number of complains a consultation was held, and the ban on mobility scooters has been successfully lifted by town pasture masters on the Beverley Westwood’s golf course.

It was found that the ban had prevented several regular members from playing because they needed mobility scooters to get around. After the club had written to the members about the rule, the pasture masters who supervise the course were made aware of the issue, and made the decision to lift the ban to allow mobility scooter users back onto the course.

One local regular golfer Brian Yates, 77, was interviewed by the local press, and stated that he was delighted at the hearing the news.

A mobility scooter user himself, Mr Yates, of Lockington, told the press: “I have been using my buggy because of my heart problems over the past four-and-a-half years. I have been a member of Beverley Golf Club for quite a number of years and have a lot of friends there so I was pleased when I was told I could come back. This could help people in the future, too.”

The chairman of Beverly Pasture Masters, Allan English, has confirmed that mobility scooters would be permitted on the Westwood course, but that golf buggies would not allowed.

In an interview with local press Mr English said: “It became an issue this year because the club wanted to use golf buggies to hire them out and we said no, it was not the type of course for riding buggies. We are not discriminating against people with disabilities. Mobility scooters are allowed, but it’s up to them to be insured. They are on rough pasture when not on the fairway and it’s at their own risk.”

The popular golf course is set in stunning countryside, and the nature of the terrain as well as the presence of grazing cattle means motorised golf buggies would not be suitable on health and safety grounds.

Mr English expressed concerns that the rough terrain could hide many hazards such as rabbit holes and unexpected obstacles that cause golf buggies to tip over. The pasture masters also have to prioritise the grazing cattle, and this is why golf buggies are banned, and also why there is a 15-yard limit for vehicles in place.

Clearer rules demanded following mobility scooter incident

A 77 year old man has passed away following a collision with a vehicle in Market Harborough on Sunday.

Currently the law on mobility scooters states that some are allowed on roads and others are allowed on dual carriageways

Mobility shop owners have said changes need to be made to the current law.

Helen Walmsley, a driving instructor from Syston said “there are a number of risks involved with the vehicles being on the road
,If people suddenly come behind something that’s doing lower than 10 mph, it will cause a hazard.”

The man who was killed has not yet been named by police. No one else was injured in the collision.

An overview from the Governments own website on the laws of mobility scooters states:

You don’t need a licence to drive a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, but you may have to register it. Only certain types can be driven on the road.

Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs come in 2 categories:

‘class 2 invalid carriages’ – these can’t be used on the road (except where there isn’t a pavement) and have a maximum speed of 4mph
‘class 3 invalid carriages’ – these can be used on the road, and have a maximum speed of 4mph off the road, and 8mph on the road

You don’t need to register a class 2 invalid carriage.

You must register Class 3 invalid carriages.

You must be 14 or over to drive a class 3 invalid carriage.

Rules for class 3 invalid carriages

Class 3 invalid carriages must have the following features:

a maximum unladen weight of 150kg
a maximum width of 0.85 metres
a device to limit its speed to 4mph
a maximum speed of 8mph
an efficient braking system
front and rear lights and reflectors
direction indicators able to operate as a hazard warning signal
an audible horn
a rear view mirror
an amber flashing light if it’s used on a dual carriageway

You could be stopped by the police if your Class 3 invalid carriage doesn’t have these features.

Driving on the road

You can only drive on the road in a class 3 invalid carriage. The maximum speed is 8mph.

You can’t drive on bus lanes, ‘cycle only’ lanes or motorways. You should avoid using dual carriageways with a speed limit of over 50mph.

You must use an amber flashing light for visibility if you use a class 3 invalid carriage on a dual carriageway.

Road rules

You must follow the Highway Code if you drive your mobility scooter on the road.

Driving on footpaths and parking

All mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs can legally travel at a maximum of 4mph on footpaths or in pedestrian areas.

You can’t drive any type of mobility scooter or powered wheelchair on cycle paths marked ‘cycle only’.
Parking

All normal parking restrictions apply to mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs.

Your vehicle shouldn’t be left on a footpath or pedestrian area on its own if it gets in the way of other pedestrians, including wheelchair users and people with prams or pushchairs.

Eyesight requirements

There is no legal eyesight requirement to drive mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs, but you should be able to read a car’s registration number from a distance of 12.3 metres (40 feet).

You must check that you can still do this regularly.

You might have to pay compensation if you have an accident and poor eyesight was part of the cause.

Use by non-disabled people

If you are aren’t disabled, you can only drive a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair if you’re:

demonstrating the vehicle before it’s sold
training a disabled user
taking the vehicle to or from maintenance or repair

Vehicle tax, registration and insurance

You don’t have to pay vehicle tax for any mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, but you still need to register class 3 invalid carriages.

To register a class 3 invalid carriage, complete form V55/4 for new vehicles, or V55/5 for used vehicles. You can get the forms from DVLA’s online ordering service.

Send the completed form to:
DVLA Swansea
SA99 1BE

You can’t license your class 3 invalid carriage online or at a Post Office.

Include evidence of the vehicle’s age (if available).
Insurance

You don’t need insurance for a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, although it’s recommended.

Official link to the government laws on mobility scooters
https://www.gov.uk/mobility-scooters-and-powered-wheelchairs-rules/driving-on-the-road

Dad turns his sons wheelchair into a Starwars Halloween Snowspeeder

Created entirely by hand, the vehicle even has working glow in the dark soft dart guns and looks amazing. Jeremy loves his new halloween wheels and after his Dad Ryan shared it on YouTube over 220,000 people have viewed it online.

Ryan said ”We turned Jeremy’s wheelchair into his very own snowspeeder from The Battle of Hoth from the Empire Strikes Back!”. Lots of viewers who have seen Jeremy in his wheelchair Snowspeeder have said they would love to serve under the command of the young Jedi, others said what a great father Ryan is to make this for his son.

I do not think Jeremy will be putting this costume away until next halloween.