After a year of paralysis, Brian Matthews was able to enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of steering a tall ship through Southampton water.
Wheelchair accessible vehicle converter, Gowrings Mobility
, worked with Jubilee Sailing Trust to offer a wonderful and inspiring prize for a wheelchair user and carer to take to sea for the day.
It was an early start for Brian and Helen Matthews of Guildford when their Gowrings Mobility chauffeur driven wheelchair accessible vehicle collected them from their home to travel to Southampton Docks for a Day Sail with Jubilee Sailing Trust.
Waiting for them was Tenacious a wheelchair accessible tall ship. Built in 2000, Tenacious is one of only two tall ships in the world built to accommodate a mixed ability crew. Lord Nelson, their first ship, is due to set sail around the world in October.
The lucky prize winners entered the Gowrings Mobility prize draw during a visit to the Gowrings Mobility Roadshow at Paultons Park last month. Despite the awful wet weather the whole family including Brian and Helen’s twin boys George and Robert (3 years old) all enjoyed a free day out at the fantastic visitor attraction thanks to Gowrings Mobility and they thought very little about the prize draw.
Brian 49, thanked Gowrings Mobility and the Jubilee Sailing Trust saying, "It was a fantastic day and I am overwhelmed by the generosity of Gowrings Mobility. After a year of paralysis this is such good luck. The journey in the wheelchair accessible vehicle was great. The feeling of freedom on the ship was wonderful. By far the best part of the day was steering the ship. I would love to come back and enjoy another voyage and maybe go up the mast."
Brian relies on a manual wheelchair following a spinal stroke just over a year ago. Without warning Brian went from being physically fit and active to being completely paralysed from the chest down almost overnight. After spending time in several different hospitals Brian’s mobility had improved slightly and he was able to come home to his family. He is adamant that his recovery has only just started and he is determined to regain more feeling and more movement in his lower limbs. He has already surprised his doctors by being able to stand for short periods of time.
Brian made the most of the day and joined in with setting and un-setting sails along with other disabled and non-disabled crewmembers on Tenacious. The ship is wonderfully accessible with lifts to give access to the main, lower and upper decks, accessible mess, toilets (heads) and cabins.
The weather forecast had not been promising, with heavy showers predicted, but the ship seemed to dodge almost all of the heavy rain and instead soaked up glorious summer sunshine.
Brian’s wife, Helen, also had a great day out. She was able to relax and take a well-earned break – breakfast, morning smoko (tea, coffee, cake, biscuits) lunch and afternoon smoko were provided for all crewmembers. Like most carers Helen has had an awful lot to manage since Brian’s spinal stroke last year. Most people would find managing young twins a challenge without the additional complication of Brian’s condition. The day gave Helen and opportunity to relax and enjoy the view.
Returning to Southampton and their waiting Gowrings Mobility Fiat Doblo, Brian and Helen looked forward to telling their boys about their brief sea adventure on Tenacious. The Gowrings Mobility car enables wheelchair users to stay in their wheelchairs and can be pushed into position quickly and safely to travel as a passenger without the need to transfer into a car seat.
The Gowrings Mobility Roadshow programme continues to offer wheelchair users and carers free entrance to visitor attractions. For more information about dates and venues and free invitations for you or your organisation please call 0845 608 8020 or visit www.gowringsmobility.co.uk/events
Media enquiries: Helen Holden email@example.com
Gowrings Mobility is one of the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of wheelchair passenger vehicles. Gowrings Mobility converts vehicles so that a wheelchair user can remain seated in their wheelchair whilst travelling as a passenger. Based in Thatcham, Gowrings Mobility operates nationwide through the provision of a free test drive and demonstration service, enabling customers to test a vehicle in their own local and familiar environment. For more information, contact Lo-Call 0845 608 8020 or at www.gowringsmobility.co.uk