Tuesday, 5 December 2023
Tuesday, 5 December 2023

‘Starship’ mobility scooter gives learning disabled woman a new lease of life

‘Trekkie’ fan Pam has had her own USS Enterprise touch down and transform her life in the form of a new mobility scooter, thanks to a legacy from her beloved mother.

Pam lives with her husband of 18 years, John, in Biggleswade, where they are supported by colleagues from the learning disability charity, Hft. They live with their cat Stormy, a much-loved companion and member of their family who helps keep Pam going on her bad days, boosting her mental well-being.

In Star Trek, the 60s sci-fi television series, the USS Enterprise is the iconic starship carrying Captain James T. Kirk and his crew on their outer-space mission to ‘explore strange, new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before’.

So when Pam, an original Star Trek fan, got her very own ‘starship’, aka her first mobility scooter in January of this year, little wonder she was inspired to give it that same name.

Previously, Pam had needed to completely rely on the use of a wheelchair to get out and about. Things had come to a head after a lifetime of battling issues with mobility and discomfort due to a back disorder.

Pam said:

“I have to be a lot more careful with what I do now I’m older. My brain is young, but my body isn’t!”

Her reliance on a wheelchair had left her very reliant on John’s care – and physical strength when they needed to get out independently. Needless to say, Pam was very aware of her increasing reliance on John for being mobile and was concerned that this couldn’t carry on as they both got older.

But all that changed when Pam’s beloved mum Dorothy died. Unbeknownst to Pam, she’d left her daughter a little pot of money. This meant that she now had the opportunity to reclaim some of her independence and free up John, by buying a mobility scooter to replace her wheelchair in her mother’s memory.

Pam said:

“Without my mum’s inheritance, I wouldn’t have got my scooter, so in one sense she’s left me something I can keep in memory of her. That’s really important because although she may not be here with me, she’s still with me every day I’m on that scooter.”

Pam’s scooter is quite big, a sort of blue colour and has a horn and lights at the back and front. When you reverse, the lights come on so people know that you’re reversing, and then it’s got a horn at the front to allow people to get out of the way.

Pam’s new ride is also designed to be used in all sorts of weather and terrains, meaning she really can go out and about whenever the fancy takes her.

She said:

“It’s very versatile and weather tolerant, which is lucky given the country we live in; it can take a bit of punishment in the rain! The handles are made with rubber, so I can definitely grip better. And it’s road-worthy on most terrains, so it can go over grass, gravel and it can go through water.”

But before Pam could test that theory, she did have to pass an official training course required of anyone wanting to (legally) drive a mobility scooter on public roads.

Pam explained:

“I had to learn about all sorts, including different traffic lights, how to keep up with other road users, make a turn, how to get up and down a kerb. I did have a bit of a problem with backing up initially, but I am learning quite well how to do it now.”

Now Pam’s a pro on her scooter, she and John have been venturing out on the USS Enterprise every day, she says, something they can do far more easily. So much so that, thanks to the USS Enterprise, the couple felt able to travel up to Leeds for a day to visit friends and see the sights – a trip Pam and John have wanted to make for many years.

Pam reflects:

“It was a dream come true to be able to make this trip, and visit in-person friends that previously we had only been able to communicate with via emails!

“I can do a lot more now. I can just say to John, ‘I fancy a trip into town today, let’s go’, and we don’t have to worry. It’s made a big difference in what we can do, made doing shopping much easier than it used to be, and has allowed us both some freedom as well.

“The new scooter is exceptionally good at getting uphill – it’s got a heavy-duty battery at the back, and you do have to charge it but, apart from that, we go out most days. The weather really doesn’t stop us.”

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