Ex-professional dog walker, Poppy Duncombe, is able to walk her dog again thanks to her TGA Breeze S4.
Before having to stop work due to health issues, Poppy ran a professional dog walking business. She had previously managed a busy building company however changed career when stress and anxiety became a problem. Becoming self-employed was the best thing Poppy ever did and seeing so many dogs grow up from pups was ‘very rewarding’. In September last year things changed dramatically when she developed Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) and suddenly was unable to walk. Her restricted mobility and common falls got so bad she had to give up her business and even re-home one of her dogs. Poppy was determined to find a way through life that allowed her to walk her dog again and get back out in the countryside.
Poppy started looking online for ‘all terrain scooters’ and came across the Disabled Ramblers Association. This is a charity which plans and organises countryside and coastal rambles for groups of scooter users. She saw some of the Disabled Ramblers used a Breeze S4 scooter so made contact with TGA and a home assessment was arranged.
“Before contacting TGA I’d seen another off-road scooter used by the Disabled Ramblers, however it was too expensive and not that practical elsewhere,” Poppy explains. “I am like my ex-husband and son who rode MotoCross bikes – I’ll give any terrain a go so didn’t want a flimsy scooter. I wanted something more like a Land Rover that was comfortable in fields and forests. Test driving the Breeze for the first time made me realise it was the type of scooter I needed to get out with a dog again. It’s not just the sights and sounds of the countryside I missed, but the fresh smells as well.”
Poppy lives in a leafy area near the National Trust property Polesden Lacey. She is now able to drive to this popular Edwardian house and regularly has a coffee in the courtyard café. “I go past fields of horses and along the grass verge to the house; it is always easy to park my scooter outside the café,” she said. “It is so nice and comfy to drive. I can’t express enough the happiness it brings me. I love going out and feeling the sun on my face, my Breeze has made all the difference. Honestly it gives me an epic feeling of freedom, people always smile at me. I feel safe and it feels sturdy.”
Visiting Polesden Lacey is a favourite destination for Poppy on her daily drives however the main highlight is being able to walk her rescue dog Skyla. “My Breeze and my dog are now my life,” she says. “Before I had the Breeze, I had to re-home my dog as I couldn’t walk him anymore. Having Skyla is now my saving grace; I must be able to get out with her. I was determined to find a scooter that I could go out into the countryside on and not just around the block, I was not going to accept anything less.
"As I can take my Breeze with confidence where I like, Skyla is able to trot alongside me,” Poppy adds. “It’s great to watch her trot alongside my scooter, she really gets in the zone, almost like she sees the Breeze as another dog, so she’s part of a pack. I can be a bit nutty with where I go so always carry pieces of rolled up carpet. My dad was in the tank corps and said if you get stuck in mud, putting carpet under the wheels will get you out. I’d love him to get a scooter as well especially as he has given up driving a car, we’d have so much fun together.
“Living with my condition can be hard but you know what, I will not be beaten,” Poppy concludes. “It is unpredictable, a bit like MS, some days are good and some not so good. I can get paralysis in my legs which is why I need a scooter. It has helped me remain positive as this viewpoint on life is so important. Don’t try and fight disability, accept it and make the most out of life. My Breeze scooter, dog and Christian faith are all helping me find my way.”