When Beckie Eastham-Buckley was searching for her ideal mobility scooter, she knew exactly what she was looking for. Living with her partner Jane and her three beloved dogs in a remote area of Scotland, it had to be capable of going slightly off the beaten track on countryside walks.
Up until now, Beckie used a wheelchair and crutches most of the time which meant getting outside and walking the dogs was impossible. A far-cry from the days spent as an environmental consultant and football coach, which she had to give up due to Behçet's syndrome.
When she came across the Vita S online, her mind made up. “Looking at the Vita it had everything I needed – suspension, big wheels and a bucket seat,” she says. “I needed something that would cope with the stony roads and tracks near us. The scooter needed to let me walk my dogs with peace of mind and be strong enough to cope with whatever I threw at it. I’d owned a scooter from another brand before but it was rubbish… it kept letting me down and spent more time in storage. I read reviews on social media and on the TGA website and knew that was the scooter for me.”
However, without work, affording it was a problem. “That’s when my support worker from Capability Scotland came to the rescue.”
Capability Scotland is a charity that provides care, support and education for disabled children and adults across Scotland. Beckie’s support worker, Stuart, told her about ways they could help with grants which led to contact with the Barchester Charitable Foundation, which assists disabled people in several areas of Scotland where its network of care homes operate. Beckie applied for scooter funding and successfully received help with the cost. With TGA’s support she has been able to get her ideal scooter and benefit from all the lifestyle advantages the Vita S provides.
“It’s just freedom, simple. I was so fed up before,” she says. “With my scooter I have no worries and no one is worrying about me, so we all have a better time outdoors. It has let me get out and have a life.
“I love dogs and have had dogs all my life, I wouldn’t be without them. Now with my scooter I can give them the exercise they need. I tend to go out for four and a half miles in the morning and two and a half miles in the afternoon. We go on plenty of different terrains including through a forest. I can also visit my mum three miles away on my own; she thinks my scooter is amazing however I am yet to convince her to buy one, a real shame as she’s missing out so much. I hope more people get to understand that a mobility scooter is all about enablement, not disablement.”
Beckie believes the design and styling of the Vita S removes the stigma attached, by some, to scooters and is opening up peoples’ eyes to the independence they provide. “When you are struck down with a disability out of the blue, like I was at 30, it can be devastating,” she says. “I was sporty and coaching football on a regular basis whilst enjoying work – that all had to stop when I lost my mobility. I felt like my life was over in a blink of an eye. Not anymore with my Vita, being able to get out without embarrassment is huge and share memorable times with Jane and the dogs.”
With the help and confidence the Vita S has given her, Beckie has been able to socialise more and join various outdoor sporting groups organised through Capability Scotland. Beckie and her partner meet a group of people with disabilities once a week and also enjoy accessible archery, boccia, sailing, canoeing and fishing.
“Before my scooter was delivered, I hadn’t been out for months,” she says. “TGA were brilliant getting it delivered to me safely, keeping their distance and making sure the scooter was completely disinfected. I travelled 14 miles on my first day to test the distance. Honestly, I’m so, so pleased and gobsmacked with how good the scooter is. I did not want anything old fashioned and ‘fuddy-duddy’, my partner even says it is sexy! I can see how many motorbike components are in a Vita S, that’s why the ride is so smooth…. flipping ‘eck it is a joy to drive.
“Even shopping is so much easier so we’re going to get a trailer for the car so I can do the Christmas shopping on it” she concludes. “I love whizzing around on my wheelchair, but this is better, especially if I am on the road as I’m more visible. That’s one of the best bits about the scooter as I find too many things in the way on the pavement. I am allowed on the road with my Vita and feel safe.
“Capability Scotland, TGA and Barchester are an amazing bunch of people and I’ll always be indebted to them all.”