Retired firefighter Charlie Sludden, 84 from Paisley, has regained his ability to holiday on cruise ships and enjoy scenic Renfrewshire through a pioneering Minimo Plus 4 mobility scooter from TGA.
Charlie was born in Gartcosh in Lanarkshire and was a firefighter for over 30 years. He was one of the brave firemen who tackled the infamous Cheapside Street whisky bond fire in Glasgow during 1960. This fire was Britain's worst peacetime fire disaster and claimed the lives of 19 service personnel. It took Charlie and 450 other firefighters a week to extinguish the fire which was fuelled by 1 million imperial gallons of whiskey and rum. Charlie’s career ended in the 1980’s when he took retirement and now enjoys life with his wife who was a staff nurse for 43 years. In recent years Charlie has developed Parkinson’s which is progressively limiting his walking abilities – hence he considered buying a mobility scooter. As the new TGA Minimo Plus four has a traditional 4-wheel configuration, which is rare in folding scooters, it was deemed the ideal solution for stability and control when living with Parkinson’s.
Charlie explains: “I saw a Minimo for the first time whilst on a cruise around the Mediterranean. The guy riding it had a leg injury and we got talking and he let me have a go. When we got home I contacted TGA and a nice chap called Harry came to see my wife and I to assess my needs. We all decided together that the Minimo Plus 4 would be perfect for me with its front wheels being wide apart. I wanted a sturdy scooter and not just a dinky toy as I used to driving a ruddy great fire engine!”
Susan, Charlie’s wife continues: “As I am a retired Senior Theatre Nurse with over 40 years of experience, I was very impressed with Harry’s assessment of my husband’s needs. Especially in terms of checking his control when driving. I was involved with Health and Safety when I worked at the hospital so can recognise what is safe and what isn’t. This is important especially as Charlie has Parkinson’s. Charlie has been advised not to wear slippers now as a possible trip hazard, only shoes, and I continue to monitor him to check he is ok. With his condition currently he has good co-ordination and can still safely drive the car however walking long distances is now too challenging. The Minimo maintains his mobility so we can enjoy walking together along the scenic canal next to our house where an old mill used to stand. Charlie’s Minimo Plus 4 has solid tyres and not air-filled as he feels more assured with a firmer ride.”
Susan adds: “The biggest difference our TGA scooter has given us is freedom to go on cruises. Charlie has driven straight up the gangplank in the past or, as he can walk a short distance, we fold up the Minimo and wheel it on. Even when it’s folded it is so manoeuvrable. Times are changing on cruises so it’s always best to go for an accessible cabin which we do now. Our scooter stows so easily – we actually measured it and discovered it is more compact that the wheelchair we used to take. It fits in our under stairs cupboard at home. When we go ashore on a tour Charlie always takes his scooter. Whatever foreign town we look around, it has the stability to tackle uneven surfaces and low kerbs which are more common abroad. Plus, if places get busy, Charlie just toots the horn and I say excuse me, people are so polite and let us through. Stopping for a beer in cafes is also easy, people will always move chairs and tables for you.”
Susan concludes: “It’s the best buy we have ever made, its excellent. When not abroad we go into Glasgow quite a bit on the train with the scooter which is no bother at all. As long as you tell the station master in advance, there is always someone there with a ramp. Charlie can then drive onto the train. Getting into a taxi is just as easy as we fold the Minimo up and our regular driver just slots it into the boot in one piece. There are so many good things about this scooter.”