I have been in need of a form of electronic propulsion for a long time and it was an article in the League News that spurred me on to write to the Benevolent Fund Committee to apply for a small grant towards the cost of purchasing a wheelchair. Hilary Mathews, the Hon. Secretary of the Benevolent Fund responded straight away and I was overjoyed when the committee agreed to fund the whole amount: with this generous grant, I was able to purchase a folding but lightweight and manoeuvrable wheelchair from a local company, which was delivered the next day.
A further award from the Department of Works and Pensions’ Personal Independence Payments scheme (PIP) allowed me to apply for a car from the Motability organisation. The Motability Scheme enables people to get mobile by exchanging their mobility allowance from the DWP to lease a new car, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV), scooter or powered wheelchair. As my current car was too small for a wheelchair to be stowed, I needed an estate Motability car with an electric hoist fitted to lift the wheelchair into the back.
We decided that we would try out the new wheelchair in a local forest with accessible paths. We visited early in the morning on a warm day in May and had a wonderful time. My electric wheelchair uses Lithium batteries which last a long time, allowing me to travel almost three miles along the Easy Access Trail. I haven’t been able to visit woodlands like this for very many years and savoured every moment.
There has been a good deal of research on the benefit of visiting woodlands, both physical and psychological, and I certainly felt better for my trip. I hope that when it is safe to do so, I hope to be able to return there, and other places like RHS Wisley. I hope that this will encourage other members of the League to apply to the Benevolent Fund Committee for help – it’s certainly made a huge difference to me and I am most grateful to them.