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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Wheelchair News

Quality Wheelchairs at Low Prices

  • What to look for in a wheelchair powerpack

    Power packs for wheelchairs are relatively simple pieces of equipment that allow you to turn a manual wheelchair in to an electric wheelchair. Powerpacks have been around for many years but have become so much more popular in the past few years due to their massively improved performance. This improvement is largely down to the progress made in battery performance.

    All wheelchair powerpacks are made up of 3 key components. The controller, the motor(s) and the battery. With battery’s becoming smaller lighter and more powerful the scope of the powerpack has improved and some now match the performance of a purpose build electric wheelchair when it comes to power and range.

    Click here to see the benefits of a wheelchair powerpack  

    Powerpack controllers come in 2 forms, user controllers and attendant controllers for the carer to control the wheelchair. The user controller can be fitted to either arm rest allowing easy access. The attendant controllers are fitted to one of the push handles and allow the carer to control the motion of the chair with simple forward and reverse controls. These can be used in conjunction with attendant brakes where fitted.

    We often receive enquiries from wheelchair users where their partner / carer also has some limited mobility. In these situations, a wheelchair power pack is perfect as it allows them to go out together safely, bringing great benefit to both the carer and the wheelchair user. This allows them freedom to get to places

    Wheelchair powerpacks from TGA

    Lets look at the TGA range of wheelchair powerpacks which are very compact, easy to fit and come in 4 different specifications depending on user weight. The TGA powerpack range are designed and made here in the UK and are designed to attach to almost any manual wheelchair in minutes.

    Solo powerpack

    Some of the simpler powerpacks have a single drive wheel, a maximum 18 stone user weight and has forward travel only. These models are ideal for occasional use or use in largely flat level areas such as shopping centres where the surface is smooth and there are no gradients. It is capable of 4 mph which is a brisk walking speed. See the Solo powerpack here

    Duo Powerpack

    The TGA Duo wheelchair powerpack shown in situDuo As the name suggests the TGA Duo wheelchair powerpack has two drive wheels meaning that there is twice the amount of grip in touch with the ground giving more traction. It is limited to 18 stone users’ weight but is better equipped to handle inclines or less smooth surfaces. The Duo powerpack from TGA also has a reverse feature that makes tighter more intricate manoeuvres far easier. These models are very popular in care home environments and ate also capable of speeds up to 4 mph. See the TGA Duo powerpack here

    Heavy duty powerpacks

    The TGA Duo wheelchair powerpack shown in situAs their name suggests these extra strong heavy-duty models are designed for larger users up to 26 stone in weight. This model also has forward and reverse gears and can move along at speeds up to 4 mph. See the heavy duty powerpack model here.

    PLUS powerpack

    The TGA wheelchair powerpack PLUS shown in situ

    Finally, the last model in the TGA powerpack range is the PLUS which is the most powerful model and operates from a 24-volt system which allows it to propel users up to 32 stone in weight and is limited to 3 mph. See the powerpack PLUS from TGA here

    All models in the TGA powerpack range have a built-in security feature which prevents unintended use. Without the key being in place the power cannot be engaged. The controller has two speed settings which can be selected before you start off. When you are ready to go you simply push down on the button and you will continue until that is released. If you wish to change direction, you simply turn the lever on the rocker switch which allows you to select the reverse gear.

    Range of all wheelchair powerpacks varies enormously depending on the surface and the incline on which you are travelling. TGA state that their models are generally good for a top range of 10 miles but again you need to consider the surroundings on which you'll be operating.

    All models fit under the wheelchair seat which allows unhindered walking behind the wheelchair. Most can be fitted with ease in just a couple of minutes. They can remain in place and their batteries can be removed for charging purposes.

    Watch the fitting of a wheelchair powerpack

    When it is time to fold and transport or store the wheelchair it is incredibly easy to remove the powerpack. The TGA range are particularly easy to detach quickly as they use a simple Velcro system for attaching the battery to the main unit. TGA even offer a wheeled trolley to allow you to transport the powerpack independently when it is detached from the wheelchair.

    With thousands of units being sold each year in the UK alone, the powerpack has revolutionised the lives of many wheelchair users. With affordable prices you too can benefit from these light but effective wheelchair wheelchairs.

  • Heavy duty wheelchairs - a buyers guide

    Heavy duty wheelchairs or bariatric wheelchairs as they are sometimes called are designed to cater for larger users. Requirements of a heavy duty wheelchair are not only catering for extra weight but also the typically larger size of a heavy user.

    A Esteem heavy duty bariatric wheelchair with attendnat brakes The Esteem heavy duty self propelled bariatric wheelchair with attendant brakes

    For this reason, bariatric wheelchairs generally come with wider seats to accommodate the larger user and ensure that they are comfortable and suitably supported in their extra wide wheelchair.

    Click here to view the Esteem heavy duty bariatric wheelchair

    To view our extensive range of extra wide heavy duty bariatric wheelchairs please click here

    Extra wide wheelchairs

    These increases in strength and width require design changes in the wheelchair to ensure that the structural features are in place to support the extra weight and width.

    It is important to bear in mind that there are other considerations to make when buying a heavy duty wheelchair. These considerations reflect the users environment as much as the wheelchair itself. As an example, an extra wide wheelchair is going to be less easy to pass through a standard width door frame than a regular wheelchair with an 18" seat.

     An extra wide heavy duty wheelchair viewed from the side The Roma 1473X bariatric wheelchair. An extra wide self propelled heavy duty wheelchair with a 26" wide seat

    Standard wheelchairs are typically designed to accommodate users up to 18 stone or 115 KG. These standard models have seat widths of 16" or 18" which means their overall width including the wheels is approximately 23" to 25" wide which means that they can pass through a regular internal doorway which tend to be 2ft 6in wide. View the Roma bariatric wheelchair here.

    When assessing yourself for a heavy duty extra wide wheelchair it is wise to consider your strength and independence as this will affect the type of wheelchair you will need. If your upper body strength is good and your exercise tolerance is adequate then you may want to opt for a self propelled wheelchair rather than a transit model that requires an attendant to propel you.

    When looking at a bariatric wheelchair one other consideration is to look at the construction of the footplates. Some people prefer metal foot plates as they provide extra durability and will bear greater weight with ease.

    Heavy duty self propelled wheelchairs

    If you opt for a self propelled heavy duty wheelchair then you also need to allow additional space for your hands as they will be in contact with the push rims when you are on the move. For this reason it is a good plan to evaluate the tasks that you will want to undertake from the wheelchair then you can ensure that the model you select supports your requirements.

    As a wheelchair gets wider, then its turning circle increases too making it less manoeuvrable in confined spaces. This is because the distance between the rear wheels on which you pivot will increase as the seat width does. This will have some knock-on effect in the use of the chair inside the home.

    Comfort in a heavy duty wheelchair

    If you expect to use your bariatric wheelchair for much of the day then it is important to consider how best to maintain appropriate levels of comfort and avoid potential problems from pressure areas where your body can suffer. A good way to conquer these potential problems is to use a good quality heavy duty wheelchair cushion which can provide padding where needed, reduce the chance of pressure sores and create a comfier environment. The cushion also has to fit the chair well so that there are no big gaps between the cushion and the wheelchair frame. View our extra wide wheelchair cushion here.

    Heavy duty transit wheelchairs

    If you decide that a self propelled model is not suitable for you then a transit alternative might well be the way forward. If this is the case, then you will need to factor in the weight of the chair and your weight and check that the wheelchair attendant is capable of manoeuvring and controlling the wheelchair while on the move. For this reason, a transit wheelchair with attendant brakes is a good idea as these will enable the attendant to control the chair with ease when making turns and while descending inclines where it is necessary to slow the momentum of the wheelchair.

    An extra wide bariatric transit wheelchair An extra wide bariatric transit wheelchair for users up to 32 stone or 200kgs in weight

    View the Sentra bariatric transit wheelchair here

    When heavy duty wheelchairs are designed and manufactured there are a few areas where performance is enhanced to cater for the increased weight. These are primarily concerned with the strength of the frame but also extend to the upholstery fabric and fixings. Typically, an extra wide heavy duty wheelchair will have additional cross bracing to ensure a strong frame on which the seat is mounted. In addition the weld joints are typically reinforced to take the added weight and cope with the knocks and bumps that are encountered on a daily basis.

    Folding heavy duty wheelchairs

    Most wheelchair frames are constructed using aluminium or steel. Steel is more likely to be used when greater strength is needed to support the increased weight although in some more expensive models other string materials like aluminium can be used to help reduce the overall weight of the wheelchair. Virtually all bariatric or extra wide heavy duty wheelchairs have the ability to fold but as the chair gets wider, the folding action becomes less easy due to the increased weight and the increased bulk.

    When you are about to make a purchase of a heavy duty wheelchair you may want to look to see what accessories are available. Most wheelchair accessories will fit most wheelchairs however there are a few which are specific to bariatric extra wide wheelchairs that may be worth considering to improve user comfort levels.

    To view our extensive range of extra wide heavy duty bariatric wheelchairs please click here

  • The difference between indoor electric wheelchairs and outdoor electric wheelchairs

    Electric wheelchairs or powerchairs as they are also know come in many different guises these days and are designed for use in many environments but what is the difference between those intended for indoor use and those for outside use.

    We look at the facts that matter which can help you when it comes to buying your next electric wheelchair.

    Here at UK wheelchairs, we stock a very wide range of electric wheelchairs or powerchairs as they are sometimes referred to. We will only be reviewing models that we keep in stock which extends to more than 30 different electric wheelchairs from a range of manufacturers which can be viewed here.

    The Cyrus electrci wheelchair shown from the side view A relatively compact electric wheelchair that is well suited to use indoors and outside

    The range of electric wheelchairs is wide and can be broken down in to 2 main categories, indoor and outdoor. Although you will see that many electric wheelchairs are suitable for both scenarios but maybe not as good as those designed for specific use.

    Opposite is the Cirrus lightweight folding electric wheelchair

    Making the right decision about the powerchair that you purchase is an important one and it will affect your ability to function and overall quality of life.

    Size matters with an electric wheelchair

    The key difference between an indoor electric wheelchair and an outdoor electric wheelchair boils down to its size and manoeuvrability. When inside users want to be able to move about their home at a suitable slow speed and be able to move about with confidence in confined spaces. Features that allow the powerchair to turn on the spot make everyday chores so much easier.

    Indoor electric wheelchairs are therefore more compact in size and will often have different drive methods to those used by large outdoor electric wheelchairs that are intended for outside use.

    The Jazzy Select 6 electric wheelchair with 6 wheels The Jazzy Select electric wheelchair with 6 wheels is not so small but is very manoeuvrable

    All electric wheelchairs and powerchairs are made up of the same key components being a frame with power base, a seat and the user controls required to operate the chair. This said, there is a big difference in the design depending on its intended usage and whether that is primarily indoors or outside.

    Model shown is the Jazzy Select 6 powerchair

    Powerchair wheel configuration and benefits

    There are a number of different configurations for powerchair wheels. Some models have 4 wheels and some have 6. The drive wheels can be the front wheels, centre wheels or the rear wheels and each bring their own benefits from an operational point of view.

    Front wheel driven wheelchairs are generally better for avoiding obstacles making them more suited to indoor usage. Rear wheel drive powerchairs are generally better at delivering power and getting traction required for inclines. This makes rear wheel drive models far more suitable for outside work.

    Electric wheelchairs that have 6 wheels and are driven by the centre wheels are the best for indoor use as they allow the powerchair to turn on the spot making intricate manoeuvres such as working in the kitchen far easier, where you may want to put items from the sink or draining board away in cupboards opposite for example.

    Electric wheelchair battery range

    The range of an electric wheelchair is dependent on a few factors including its weight, the users weight, the power of the batteries and motors. In essence, if you are opting for an outdoor powerchair then you are more likely to want to travel longer distances. During your travels you are likely to experience inclines which will require more power than flat terrain. More power requires bigger battery provision which can mean that more than one battery may be used. Similarly, with more load to overcome, the powerchair motor will need to be bigger or more than one motor might be required.

    Indoor powerchairs tend to have less 'clutter' than outdoor chairs. Items like lights that are essential for outdoor models are either smaller or not evident on indoor models. Being smaller and lighter makes them more nimble and easier to carry out the basic tasks at home like passing through narrow doorways and accessing smaller rooms such as the toilet or bathroom.

    An indoor powerchair will need less power as there are no hills, so batteries and motors can be fewer and smaller which helps to keep it compact and efficient for use inside.

    The Freedom electric wheelchair showing its compact size and folding frame The Freedom electric wheelchair showing its compact size and folding frame.

    An electric wheelchair or powerchair designed for outside use will need to cope with a wider range of terrain than their indoor counterparts. For this reason, wheels are typically larger to help them to deal with undulations and rough surfaces. The wheels are also typically wider which helps them distribute the power better and improve traction on lose or uneven surfaces.

     

    The model shown is the Freedom A08 electric wheelchair

    Outdoor powerchairs also provide more in the way of storage as it is expected that they are to be used for carrying goods such as shopping from A to B. This storage might be in the way of a basket and or under seat storage that will cope with larger volumes of goods.

    How does my size affect the powerchair i should select

    Of course, the user’s height and weight also need to influence they type and size of the electric wheelchair that you select. Other big considerations are transportability. If you envisage wanting to travel with your powerchair then it is essential that you are able to transport it with ease. Smaller powerchairs often have the ability to fold to make them more compact for transportation. Other models need to be partly dismantled to allow them to be small enough to fit within the car boot or other transport method. Other considerations like the height at the front will affect how easy it is to work at a desk for example. In this case the front needs to be low and maybe the arm rests will need to be flipped upwards in order to sit at the desk.

    The costs of buying an electric wheelchair

    Finally, cost is often a big factor in determining which type of electric wheelchair that you opt for.

    Some of the latest designs such as the Freedom chair shown above can be purchased with options on the number of batteries you will require which will improve the range of the wheelchair but also increase the overall weight.

    For further information and advice on selecting the right wheelchair for your requirements, the above video is very useful and covers both manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs and powerchairs.

  • Paralympian turns wheelchair maker

    Vince Ross started making wheelchairs in 1976 after competing in the Paralympics. He lost the ability to walk following a car crash in which his spine was broken.

    Formerly a toolmaker Vince had all the skills required to make a wheelchair and that is exactly what he did having been inspired by some American athletes at the game who had also created their own models. Vince was unable to continue as a toolmaker following the accident as it required too much scrambling about the factory floor. So Vince took to the drawing office where he began his plans for making his first self designed wheelchair.

    Having studied the form of other wheelchairs that were available he started getting his own ideas on to paper. It wasn’t long before he started production and completed his own wheelchair in a workshop near where he lived in Liverpool.

    Now he employs a team of local people many of whom are wheelchair users to both make and sell the wheelchairs that they manufacturer. All of his sales staff are wheelchair users and Vince claims that they are in the best position to give good advice on what to look for when selecting the right wheelchair. Vince says that it is much easier to relate to someone who is sat in a wheelchair than a none disabled person when buying a wheelchair.

    The range of chairs that Vince and his team make is very diverse and the main aim is to make life easier for the whole family of the wheelchair user. This bespoke service is not to be compared to the big manufacturers who send out thousands each year. Instead each wheelchair is selected and tailored to meet the requirements of each specific user.

    His aim is that every customer who enters his workshops leaves with a wheelchair that is perfect for their requirements and that they leave with a smile.

    Watch the BBC video about Vince here

  • What is the best wheelchair for nursing homes

    This is a question that we are asked fairly regularly by nursing and care homes from around the UK. When looking for a wheelchair for a care home then there are a few key questions that need to be asked before you can choose a wheelchair that will meet your requirements and as often as not, most nursing homes have a range of wheelchairs to make sure they can provide for all of their users.

    Wheelchair size

    What size of wheelchair is needed? the seat width is the best guide, where 18 is considered standard. if you have some overweight or larger users then you might need to consider a heavy duty extra wide wheelchair, these are often referred to as bariatric wheelchairs

    Maximum user weight

    All wheelchair manufacturers’ give guidance on the maximum user weight for each model that they supply. it is imperative that you stick well within these guidelines to ensure that the wheelchair is sufficiently strong to take the users weight without the risk of damage to the chair and the user.

    Wheelchair type

    These can be split mainly in to one of two types being transit, where the user is pushed by an attendant or a self propelled wheelchair which is moved along by its user although does have push handles so can be propelled by an attendant also.

    Fixed or reclining

    Reclining wheelchairs were viewed as rather specialist a few years ago but more recently they have become accepted as fairly routine. These allow the user to be reclined when they wish to rest or when they need to reduce the pressure on the spine. Tilt in space wheelchairs are another type of reclining wheelchair but these tilt both the seat and the back rest which again helps to alleviate compression of the spine.

    Special features

    Some wheelchair users will have specific requirements such as elevating leg rests, head rests or other features. If this is the case it is often best to get advice from an occupational therapist who can best prescribe the functionality required.

    In general most care homes require a range of wheelchairs to cover all eventualities. Although most wheelchairs will be used only within the carehome and its grounds some will be taken off site when outings or hospital visits are arranged. Folding wheelchairs are essential if this is the case to make the storage and transportation easier. Although most models fold its worth looking out for one with a half folding backrest as this reduces the space needed to store the chair.

    Reliability is key as is the quality of the build. If it is unlikely that the wheelchair will need to be lifted in and out of vehicles then the weight is of less importance. This is where steel wheelchairs come in to their own as they tend to provide a stronger frame that will withstand the knocks of time better than their lightweight aluminum equivalents.

    Finally one key feature for wheelchairs is hygiene and the ability to clean the upholstery on a frequent basis. It is worth checking that the wheelchair upholstery can be removed as this allows a more thorough wash.

    One manufacturer, Karma Mobility has its own system that uses Aegis microbe shield fabric which prevents the growth of microbes on textiles keeping the upholstery cleaner and fresher between launderings. It does this by preventing the growth of odor causing bacteria on the upholstery.

    If you want any further advice or guidance on selecting the best wheelchair for your care home then please call and we can point you in the right direction.

  • Dont rely on the railways if you travel by wheelchair

    Again we forced to look at travel issues that face the wheelchair user. With all the turmoil of the revised rail timetables across the UK, wheelchair users seem to be getting the raw end of the deal and in some cases it seems that the disability discrimination legislation has been flouted entirely.

    The major problem facing wheelchair users seems to be wit the TransPennine Express route as for a while the normal modern carriage have been replaced with old rolling stock including 45 year old carriages that do not cater for wheelchair users.

    The main rail workers’ union has accused TransPennine Express of disregarding the current disability discrimination legislation and in effect operating a heritage railway by bringing back into service carriages that were built in the 1970s for British Rail.

    Currently, 12 of the 34 hourly services to and from Liverpool and Scarborough via Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds and York are affected effectively meaning that wheelchairs will not be able to travel on these routes. Furthermore, if wheelchair users do want to use this route they will be declined access if an older style carriage arrives and instead asked to use the next train thus facing a wait of one hour. If the following train is also not suitable then a taxi will be provided for the wheelchair user(s).

    The old carriages are unfit for wheelchair use in a number of ways but mainly the problem is dues to the slam style doors, small inaccessible toilets, the low-back seats and grab rails, all of which fail to meet the specifications of disability access regulations.

    Mick Cash, the general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), said: “British private train companies are ripping up disability discrimination legislation as they go along.” He accused TPE of “turning the clock back on progress that has been made”.

    Those of us who rely on wheelchairs are already dealt a bad hand by trains in northern England and unable to easily board any of the dozens of the Pacer trains in operation across the region. A musingly, an RMT spokesman said: “These train companies are effectively operating a heritage railway, using old rolling stock that went out of fashion when Slade were in the charts” which speaks volumes.

  • Students help design an electric wheelchair for children

    Although we don’t condone making your own wheelchair you do have to admire some folks efforts particularly when it is a wheelchair for a child. Described as an affordable electric wheelchair this one certainly looks the part and has put a smile on the kids face as engineers from Bigham Young University scratched their heads for a design that can be made at home.

    Using blue PVC pipe the frame was constructed and is described as having the benefit of being expandable as the child grows. Pram wheels were used on the rear and electric motors fitted to the front castors enabling it to turn with ease.

    A young mother is the United States was presented with the homemade electric wheelchair and expressed her gratitude as she said every kid wants the mobility every other child has. £ year old Tanner Jensen who has spinal muscle atrophy was presented with the children’s electric wheelchair and took to it without any fuss and within seconds had the biggest smile as he used the joystick controller to navigate his way around the indoor stadium on his maiden voyage.

    This wheelchair made the news and is now described as an open source wheelchair as its plans are available and all items used in its construction can be bought in a hardware store.

    Muscular Atrophy: three-year-old Tanner Jensen and 20-month-old Skyler.

    “Working with the Jensen family made the whole project more meaningful,” said Ian Freeman, who worked on the chair. “We knew we had to deliver a working wheelchair for these boys. It gave us a lot of motivation from the very beginning.” said faculty coach Mark Colton  “This capstone project is one of the most satisfying that I’ve done—and one of the best teams I’ve worked with. These students wanted to do something excellent and not just get a good grade.”

    Mark reasoned that although the chair has limitations it is good more general use and can be built for around $500 instead of the usual $5,000 that an off the shelf model could cost.

    For our selection of manual children’s wheelchair please visit here: https://www.uk-wheelchairs.co.uk/childrens-wheelchairs

  • Electric wheelchair maintenance - a quick guide

    If you are the user of an electric wheelchair or powerchair then you might be interested in this short article on electric wheelchair maintenance that includes a quick and easy check of the three main areas that affect the reliability and smooth running of your powerchair.

    Manufacturers of all types of powerchairs list these three simple steps as things that should be checked on your wheelchair regularly and certainly every week. On an annual basis it is sensible to have your electric wheelchair serviced with a qualified technician but in the meanwhile here are three things to look at each time you use your mobility aid:

    Battery status

    For the health of your wheelchair battery and for your well being it is always worth checking the status of the battery charge before you go anywhere in your powerchair. We should all do it on a daily basis so that you can get to your destination and back with complete confidence and avoid getting stranded and needing help. It is always best to refer to the manufacturers hand book for explicit instructions but we find that charging your electric wheelchair battery every night will give you sufficient go juice for the following day. If it doesn’t, then it might be worth getting the battery checked as it may need replacing.

    Tyre check

    Broadly speaking, there are two types of tyres fitted to powerchairs, those that are inflatable or pneumatic and those that are solid. If they are pneumatic then you will need to check the pressure on a weekly basis to ensure that they are correctly pressurised. If they are not then the handling of your electric wheelchair might be affected and you can also begin to wear the tyres unevenly if they are soft.

    The other check is to look for signs of wear and for sharp objects that might have become embedded in the tyres. If you do find a nail or similar please don’t be tempted to pull it out as this might lead to your powerchair being unusable. It is best to visit a tyre centre to ask them to take a look then they can deal with the problem in the event that it does become deflated.

    Fixings

    Every electric wheelchair uses many nuts and bolts to bond the various components together. Most use a type of nut that is intended to withstand vibration and therefore is unlikely to come lose. However it is wise to check the visible ones on a regular basis as your powerchair depends on the integrity of these items and if one works lose you might lose power or control of the mobility aid.

    All of the above are easy to carry out and give peace of mind when you go out in your powerchair regardless of whether it’s a long trip or a shorter journey to the local shops. Good luck with your powerchair maintenance!

  • Heathrow loses a BBC wheelchair

    Perhaps there will be a bit more focus on the plight of wheelchairs that are lost or damaged while in the charge of airlines now that it has happened to a BBC correspondent.

    Frank Gardner the security correspondent for the BBC was left on a plane for 90 minutes yesterday while the airport staff scurried about to find Mr gardeners wheelchair.

    Mr Gardner who flew in from Addis Ababa has needed a wheelchair since he was shot six times in the legs during an al-Qaeda gun attack in Saudi Arabia in 2004 which left both his legs partially paralysed.

    In a tweet sent by Mr Gardner he made it clear that the problem of missing wheelchairs always occurs at London’s Heathrow airport and generally speaking nowhere else. Frank wrote: “Odd that I can travel round the Middle East and elsewhere without a hitch. Yet time and again @HeathrowAirport loses my wheelchair on arrival. Now been on an empty plane 1.5 hours after landing. “Believe me, I’m as bored of writing this as you are of reading it.

    “Just when is the UK’s premier airport going to stop treating disabled passengers this way?”

    Later, he tweeted: “Finally got off the plane exactly 100 mins after landing. I’ve had better treatment in Djibouti.”

    It seems that it is a decision by the cabin crew that dictates whether the wheelchair can enter the cabin for the flight or whether it needs to be kept in the hold for the duration of the flight. Mr Gardner adds that during long haul flights he generally has his wheelchair on the cabin whereas it is the shorter flights that seem to lead to the loss of the wheelchair once it has been placed in the hold along with instructions to bring it up to door on arrival which he sys is frequently ignored by the crew.

    On this occasion the wheelchair was whisked off to the baggage reclaim area which was of course no use as he couldn’t get there. Mr Gardner makes it very clear that any fuss is not about him but moreso the bigger picture which seems to point to general lack of respect for the disabled fraternity.

    The BBC correspondent later told Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m not making this fuss about this for me. I’m doing this because there are hundreds, possibly thousands of others who suffer the same experience.

    “All we get are these platitudes from Heathrow airport.

    “Nothing changes, it goes on and on happening.

    “If you can’t walk and your wheelchair has been taken into the terminal, that is your legs gone, that is your mobility gone. It’s a basic human right.”

    A spokesperson for Heathrow said: “We apologise unreservedly if the service Mr Gardner received today fell short of the experience we aim to provide to our passengers.

    “We are working with the responsible airline to investigate what went wrong in this case.”

    The official line is The Civil Aviation Authority stipulates: “On arrival, your wheelchair or mobility aid should be returned to you at the arrival gate, unless there are extenuating reasons.”

    Just o show that Heathrwow isn’t the only offending airport Mr Gardner had a similar experience recently at London Gatwick after special assistance failed to turn up to meet the flight.

    Let’s hope something positive is taken from this to minimize the loss of any wheelchair in the near future.

  • Fun in the snow for wheelchair user Bethany

    The snow didn’t stop one little girl from having some fun despite her being a wheelchair user. Insisting that his daughter shouldn’t miss out, Mr Smith, Bethany’s father, decided it was time for some inventing in order to get his daughter out of her wheelchair and in to the snow.

    So the specially adapted children’s wheelchair was parked up temporarily as he converted the family washing basket in to a sledge that was warm and comfortable for Bethany who suffers from a life-limiting neuromuscular condition called Mitochondrial Myopathy.

    “We came up with the idea of adapting a washing basket and adding some padding. When we went out it wasn’t snowing but by the time we got going it was a blizzard so that’s why she had an umbrella too.

    She really enjoyed it, she just said it was amazing and funny, it was the fact she’s never been sledging before.” said Mr Smith.

    The adapted washing basket seemed to work well and used in conjunction with an umbrella Bethany was able to enjopy her time out of the wheelchair and her first foray in to winter snow sports.

    Bethany uses a manual pediatric wheelchair on a daily basis but is hoping to move on to an electric wheelchair before too long so that she can gain some independence both at home and at school where her teaching assistant often pushes her wheelchair. With her special requirements the electric wheelchair is likely to cost in the region of £18,000 so the family are presently raising money towards its purchase.

    We wish Bethany and her family all the best in this challenge and hope that she is able to upgrade to an electric wheelchair as soon as possible.

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