Wheelchair user Jack Blakeway is able to continue studying at college thanks to a TGA Powerpack donated by a family friend.
Jack, who lives with Down's Syndrome, restricted mobility and visual impairment, currently studies at Dudley College. However, he has recently been diagnosed with an inoperable hip problem and increased loss of vision. The 22-year-old has been assisted at college by a support worker who pushes him in a manual wheelchair, however this became too challenging due to the hilly nature of the campus.
Without a solution, Jack was not going to be able to continue with his life skills education which was devastating for the family. His mum, Jackie, was desperate to find an answer when her friend Simon Biddulph came up with an idea – a TGA Powerpack.
"I cannot thank Simon and TGA enough for what they have done for us, they are our guardian angels. With the news about Jack’s hip and vision problems, I really don't know what we would have done without this donated Powerpack. Jack would have been housebound and not able to go to college or anywhere as he’s too heavy to push. It is absolutely amazing."
As Simon is a Regulatory and Compliance Consultant to TGA, he decided to donate his time in return for a Duo Powerpack for Jack’s wheelchair. This motorised unit with wheels fits under an attendant controlled wheelchair, so that powered propulsion is provided to ease the strain of pushing for carers.
He has been friends with Jackie for over 10 years since he joined the Ex-Serviceman's Club in Sedgley, where Jackie is relief bar manager. When Simon was made aware of how bad the Blakeway's situation was, he decided to help.
"I'm grateful to TGA for agreeing to this opportunity as I know the quality of the Powerpack and the huge difference it makes to wheelchair users and their carers,” he said. “The Blakeways are such a lovely family and Jack is a fantastic lad who never moans or complains, he just gets on with life despite all the health challenges he has to face. I'm chuffed to bits to see how much the Powerpack has improved Jack's quality of life and eased the pressures on his mum and dad."
The Blakeways now depend on their Powerpack for Jack's mobility at college, home and during social time. It has allowed Jack to continue with his education, enjoy group outings and access the local swimming pool for hydrotherapy.
"Our Powerpack has been a lifesaver,” Jackie concludes. “Jack's support worker at college can move him around easily and we can get to the shops together. It’s all hills around us so pushing a chunky lad in a wheelchair is impossible.
“I think when Simon saw how upset I was late last year, about the risk of pulling Jack out of education, he knew he had to help. He explained our situation to TGA and they agreed to help, everyone has been so kind and Eric from TGA who came to see us was wonderful. He made Jack feel at ease which can be difficult when he meets new people. Our whole family's quality of life is so much better with this kind donation."