Martin’s post #DAYtoDAY challenge blog

Martyn Weller, chair of Disability Action Yorkshire, tackled a  24 hour journey on a mobility scooter on June 30 and July 1 to highlight the everyday challenges facing people with disabilities.

He travelled the 125 miles from Disability Action Yorkshire’s (DAY) Harrogate headquarters to the charity’s new, specially adapted holiday lodge in Kenwick Park Estate, Louth, Lincolnshire.  He raised £700 that will go towards the £50,000 cost of adapting the lodge to meet the needs of disabled people.

125 miles on a mobility scooter in just 15 hours

Well I did it  – 125 miles in under 24hours by mobility scooter!  In fact it took just 15 hours, largely due to Bessie not missing a beat, only 3 battery changes, and the superb backup from the Mobility Partnership, who followed a few yards behind the whole way – not to mention our own special branch of the Harley owners’ club.

We made it to Hull on the first day, and after an enjoyable overnight stop, we made good time the following day, in spite of a slight detour around a few housing estates in Barton on Humber, we got to Louth at the appointed 3pm. Me lost? Never had I just wanted to study a few bedding plant displays.

The first day was marred a bit by the awful weather which hit Saturday afternoon. A three hour stretch in open countryside with the driving rain lashing across the road as our hero bravely battled on defying all nature could throw at him. Well ok it wasn’t quite that bad but you know what it is like when you get wet and it’s running down the back of your neck and there is nothing you can do.

There were a few highlights to the trip, mainly milestones we could tick off. The first glimpse of the Humber Bridge, and the realisation that this was achievable.  We were still two hours from the bridge but well ahead of schedule.  Next day, of course,  actually crossing the bridge itself – a great but rather breezy experience; next passing the welcome to Lincolnshire sign; similarly the welcome to Louth sign and naturally arriving at the holiday home, to be greeted by the thronging crowd and a well deserved (well I think so anyway) glass of wine. Actually the word crowd doesn’t do justice to what must have been more than 10 people.

The other outstanding part of the trip was the reaction of so many people along the way who despite being held up still honked their support and waved. Only two showed their disapproval with various gestures and a few words mum told me to never use. I can only think it was a reaction to not knowing who their fathers were.  At least the curious spectator who asked what it was all about and then donated a fiver restored my faith.

So what was the trip like? Well as you trundle through the countryside you do notice things you take for granted when whizzing along in the car, the stunning beauty of the countryside we live in, the bird song, the numerous odours, the well kept villages each garden a credit to its owner, people stopping to chat, a dog bounding up to the gate anxious to see the world go by, the poor condition of the roads and the sheer amount of road kill. There were a few heart stopping moments on some roundabouts and the bits of dual carriageway I was forced to use, but overall I am sure I had the easy bit.

Thank you everyone who has supported this mad cap idea, I suppose you are all thinking what next? Well watch this space………..

I’m so impressd by Martin’s remarkable achievement- and I’ grateful that thanks to his determination, the holiday cottage is one step closer to providing affordable holiday accommodation for disabled people and their families. This is what the holiday cottage looks like:

The cottage in the woods

The bedroom

Martin Weller, @2012DaytoDay Challenge

I am a wheelchair user. I haven’t always used a wheelchair, but since April 2010, it has been the best way for me to get around outside, minimising pain and fatigue.

Becoming a wheelchair user is a process, rather like any loss process or a bereavement. One experiences different emotions; from grief and anger, to despair and acceptance. But it’s not a linear process; we might be fine for a while then plunge back through another layer of anger and despair when we realise another plan has to be changed, another holiday cancelled.

It’s not easy for the family of people using wheelchairs, either, because they have to deal with the process the wheelchair user is going through, whilst also following their own loss process. My children have had to adapt to the physical limitations I now have. I can’t pick them up very easily, and I can’t sit with them on my knee for a cuddle as I used to. I’m not able to do the school run.

My partner has had to adapt to becoming a carer, and to being charged with doing a far greater share of helping at home to compensate for my limitations.

Making a decision to plan for the future in a wheelchair is hard emotionally, but it can be hard practically, too. It is often not possible to stay in one’s job, if they cannot make “reasonable adjustments” and this can have a serious impact on the family’s finances (I’m speaking from bitter experience, here!) People are often unaware of how little equipment and adaptations are actually available on the NHS, and how much have to be funded out of the family’s resources.  Lots of activities, favorite holiday venues or meetings with friends have to be changed or cancelled because the venues have poor access.

Recently, I bought a second hand mobility scooter, because self-propelling a wheelchair takes considerable energy, and my energy stocks are very limited.

Despite my initial concern about how it would look to others, this addition to my life has been transformational. Thanks to the scooter, I can now independantly get up and down the hill outside my house, without the need for a push from a strong person! I can now imagine going with my family on a holiday, and being relatively independent to get from place to place without a push.

We still face the problem of a lack of accessible, affordable holiday accommodation. Common to many families with a disabled member, finding a place that we can afford, that I can access, so that our kids can have a summer holiday like any other kids is very difficult.

During the @2012DaytoDay Challenge, Martin Weller, the CEO of a local Charity called Disability Action Yorkshire is hoping to raise funds towards the provision of accessible holiday accommodation for people who use wheelchairs- this kind of accommodation is in very short supply.

Martin will be using his scooter to get from DAY HQ, Harrogate, to DAY Holiday Cottage, Louth between 30th June to 1st July, 2012. This is a journey of 125 miles and he has just 48 hours to complete the challenge!

He’s fundraising for families like mine to have holidays in accessible accommodation that doesn’t cost the earth. Please support him if you can, and follow his progress on Twitter!

For more information about Disability Action Yorkshire, please see http://www.disabilityactionyorkshire.org.uk/ or follow them on Twitter @DisActYorks, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/disabilityactionyorkshire

Follow Martin on Twitter, at @2012DaytoDay. Donate to help Martin reach his £10000 target at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=DAYtoDAYChallenge