Wed 27 June - Messages from visitors at last week’s Mobility Roadshow 2012, held at the Peterborough Arena, are full of praise for the diverse range of quality products on offer – and above all for the opportunity to try out and compare different brands and models together on one site.
“This was my first visit: it has opened my eyes”. “Unfortunately I need to stop driving so need alternative wheels: I rode a mobility scooter for the first time and I now feel more optimistic”. “I had felt isolated, now I don’t feel so alone and I am confident that there is much to help me to be more independent.” These quotes from visitors represent the general flavour of post-Roadshow messages flooding into the organisers’ office.
The Roadshow opened in buoyant mood despite one of this summer’s worst wet and windy days, and with over 180 exhibitors; more than 40 making their debut at this event; over 60 adapted or converted vehicles on the test drive track and several exciting new products on the launch pad. Always with a focus on mobility and independence these ranged from the latest robotic and hi-tech innovations to simple but ingenious new gadgets to aid everyday living.
“We are delighted with the response and saw many familiar faces, despite the current economic climate and upcoming changes to benefit assessments,” said Jacqui Jones, Executive Director of Mobility Choice, the charity that organises the event. “We know that hundreds of people with disabilities - and carers - recognise the Mobility Roadshow as the annual opportunity to keep abreast of both new and classic mobility solutions. We also saw more older people attending this year: those planning ahead for a time when they need to review their motoring options and perhaps look at alternative or complementary options.”
Julie Fernandez, actress and lively campaigner, opened the event and was pleased to see the emphasis on improving design, ‘looks’ and technological investment in products that enable people with disabilities to remain independently mobile for as long as possible – something she is passionate about. She also called for more fun and colour in low cost wheelchair accessories, such as wheelchair décor and mobile phone or drink holders, which can be purchased in easily-accessible mainstream retail outlets, such as supermarkets.
On the Invacare stand meeting visitors were Paralympian and presenter Ade Adepitan and members of the Tour de Forces team talking about their challenge to hand cycle, cycle and run 3,000 miles around the coastline of Britain, raising money for four forces charities.
One of the stars of the event was disabled motorsport marshal Steve Tarrant who smashed the record for the longest distance travelled on a mobility scooter in 24 hours, despite incessant rain and windy conditions. Said Steve on his success: "Since surviving my horrific ordeal at Goodwood in 2000, I have always had a steely determination and even though I knew this was going to be extremely tough, I would not fail. When TGA approached me with this unique opportunity I simply couldn't turn it down and I thank them and my superb pit crew for their moral and mechanical support. My Breeze S4 mobility scooter that was faultless throughout the 24 hours. I must also thank the many Roadshow visitors who came to encourage me.”
In the Motoring Arena, as well as several ‘first view and first drive’ vehicles, including WAVs, there were new hoists, restraint systems, accelerating and seating systems and accessories, as well as a call for sled testing to help make travel for wheelchair users safer.
From China a new stair and ramp-climbing four-wheel-drive power wheelchair that revisits gyroscope technology was a star turn among several new chair and scooter products being introduced. On the home front, a new product from Australia that converts existing sliding patio doors into automatic doors was popular. Other new ideas being showcased ranged from hi-tech exoskeleton ‘bionic’ walking systems to a host of innovatory gadgets and gizmos to aid independent living. Some were very simple - such as the Medi-popper for easy access to blister-packaged pills - but potentially life-changing.
In the new Cyclone Fitness Zone visitors were able to try out the latest high tech rehabilitation and therapy equipment, including leading-edge FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) equipment for use at home.
The Design Zone, again hosted by Enabled by Design and Such and Such Design, expanded to include a café area and a ‘hot desk’ feature where would-be designers and entrepreneurs gained valuable visitor feedback on new concepts for future accessible products. Visitors said they appreciated this opportunity to feed into the future of product design that meets their needs.
Look out for details regarding the 2012, 30th Anniversary show very soon!