Harry Barnley, aged 10 with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), has been ensured continued independence with a TGA WHILL Model M thanks to donations from local businesses, friends and family.
After raising an astonishing £250,000 for charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, donations were split 50-50 to fund research and help with Harry’s welfare. With walking and wheelchair self-propulsion becoming more challenging, his family’s search for a powered solution for the future began.
Harry's father, Tom, then discovered the WHILL M during research online. "Harry wanted something that was not a stereotypical powered wheelchair,” he says. “Basically something cool yet less conspicuous.
“We only live around the corner from TGA Living in Farnham, so I visited, which led to several assessments including analysis from Harry's physiotherapist. Harry took it for test drives and really liked it, he said the powered seat slide would be really useful for sitting under school desks. He equated it to a cool spaceship. Rob and Mike at TGA Living were so supportive and understanding throughout the whole process."
The timing in owning the Model M was also crucial, as Harry’s start at secondary school was fast approaching. “We needed a solution quickly,” Tom said. “Harry's limited mobility at junior school hadn't been too much of an issue as lessons where all in the same room. However, the prospect of secondary school was completely different, hence a WHILL would be vital.
“We decided to use some of Harry’s welfare donations to pay for the chair and it is already making a difference; only on an ad hoc basis currently, as we continue to encourage walking, however we all know Harry will be dependent on it full time in the not too distant future."
The Barnley family did also consider the transportable and more lightweight WHILL Model C. However, as they have a large family car used to carrying a larger off-road buggy, the WHILL M was perfect solution – especially with its omni wheel manoeuvrability for school and at home
"I had never seen a powerchair without traditional castors, which means the WHILL can turn on itself in the smallest of spaces,” Tom continues. “We now have a lift at home so Harry can access upstairs – he drives in and can turn all the way around to drive out without having to reverse. This driveability was also superb when we attended the Farnham Carnival as Harry had to negotiate larger crowds. His spatial awareness is fantastic and the way he precisely weaved in between so many people was really impressive."
"Harry will always give everything a go,” Tom concludes. “There is nothing he will not try. His condition doesn't hold him back from an attitude point. It's beyond me how he copes with his condition and the future, he just takes it in his stride. From helping me with home improvements such as drilling and floor laying, to playing the X-Box with his brother, he gives everything 100%. This energy will be empowered by the WHILL from TGA, he loves it and it is his safety net."
To donate to Harry welfare and Muscular Dystrophy UK please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/help4harry