Julie Thomson, 53, who has Multiple Sclerosis, is to display dog agility prowess on her amazing TGA Breeze 3 mobility scooter at Ace Agility's fundraising event for the MS Society at Braggons Farm near Glemsford, Suffolk, on Easter Sunday (10am, 31 March).
As well as planning to demonstrate her skills on a TGA Breeze 3 scooter alongside Dodger, her 4-year-old Patterdale Terrier cross, Julie is helping Glemsford's Ace Agility dog trainer, Jacqui Wood, to organise this charity event. Jacqui is giving her services free of charge. The Dog Agility Day aims to raise funds for the MS Society's 'Challenge60' campaign in celebration of its 60th anniversary. The charity aims to raise 250,000 in 60 days, and Ace Agility's event is one of hundreds that are being held across the country to encourage donations. All members of the local community are welcome to come along and spectate for free and take advantage of the refreshments on offer whilst watching more than 30 dogs of all shapes and sizes display their agility skills. In addition to the sporting action, a volunteer professional photographer from fidofoto.co.uk will be offering participating and non-participating dog owners the opportunity to have their pets photographed, with all profits going to the MS Society.
Julie Thomson is a lovely lady with a fantastic personality who was diagnosed with MS in 1998. Originally from London, she moved from St Albans to Sudbury, Suffolk in 1990, where, coincidently, her mobility scooter supplier, TGA, is also based. She then settled in Stanstead village in 1995.
She trained as a nurse at Guy's Hospital in London, and was latterly the Nurse Practitioner in Urology at the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. When MS began to affect her mobility, Julie was able to continue working with outpatients using her walking sticks and a wheelchair, but eventually 'MS fatigue' led to her early retirement in 2004.
As her mobility became more restricted, she decided to use a mobility scooter, but it was not until she owned a robust and rugged TGA Breeze 3 that she was able to tackle a wider variety of ground conditions and consider taking up dog agility; she and Dodger have now been training at Ace Agility since the summer of 2011. Julie's Breeze is a similar model to the TGA scooter that won the BBC Top Gear Extreme Challenge last year.
Julie explains, 'I've used a mobility scooter for a long time, but I wasn't lucky enough to get a versatile Breeze 3 from TGA in Sudbury until 2007. It's six years old now, and has done about 1,000 miles a year, but is still going strong! The Breeze 3's large wheels and slender front end make it ideal for manoeuvring around an outdoor dog agility course. Its handling, its power and, in particular, its suspension mean that it can cope with all kinds of terrain, making it the ideal mobility scooter for dog agility. And Dodger also has a comfy footplate to ride home on if he's worn out after a tiring training session in Glemsford!
When I'm not at Ace Agility, Dodger and I negotiate the beautiful public footpaths around Stanstead on my TGA Breeze 3 - often over very rough ground, especially in winter. It's a superb machine, and one that I would recommend to anyone living with restricted mobility who wants to enjoy the outdoors independently.'
Julie concludes, 'I do hope that as many people as possible attend our Easter Sunday Dog Agility Day at Braggons Farm, Boxted, IP29 4LL and donate to 'Challenge60' during the event or online. The MS Society is a wonderful organisation that provides essential information, support and services that really make a difference to the lives of the 100,000 people in the UK who live with MS. Thanks to Ace Agility, I can't wait to show off Dodger's skills on the day - and my TGA Breeze 3 is, as ever ready for action!'
Donations can be made to the MS Society in conjunction with this event on the just giving website.
Julie can be seen in action on her TGA Breeze 3 mobility scooter on YouTube