Despite having major walking difficulties, Alan Gibbons, 67 from Surrey, has been able to fulfill a lifelong dream to holiday in America on a paddle steamer thanks to a new type of folding Minimo mobility scooter .
Before retiring due to the neurological affects of Spinal Foramina (narrowing of the spinal column), Alan was a busy clerk at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. He lives in Epsom with his wife Sheila who both have a passion for travel and the outdoors. They are members of the National Trust and enjoy spending time together and meeting up with friends at picturesque locations such as Nonsuch Park. However this freedom was becoming increasingly compromised until Alan discovered the Minimo from TGA - a lightweight mobility scooter that folds up in one simple movement. This clever, easy-to-lift scooter fits into the boot of their Toyota Prius car and thanks to its compact size, can be taken on buses, trains and planes. This pioneering level of transportability has meant Alan could fly to America with his Minimo and experience independence on a nine-day cruise from Memphis to New Orleans.
Alan explains: "Since unfortunately developing a prolapsed disc in my lower back, my mobility has been restricted. I have undergone several back operations hence without a mobility scooter, walking any large distance would be impossible. This had led to my wife having to push me in a wheelchair when we went out for the day, not ideal, especially as we couldn't have a simple conversation side-by-side. My Minimo has changed all that, especially when we went on our dream holiday recently. We flew with Virgin airlines who were excellent in terms of their support - they allowed me to use my Minimo right up until boarding the plane at Heathrow. Within seconds it was folded down and then placed in the luggage hold. We had several connecting flights to catch from Detroit to Cincinnati to Memphis - all airport staff ensured my Minimo was ready for me when debarking, even the Captain reminded them on one occasion to get my scooter!"
Alan continues: "Throughout our amazing trip down the Mississippi river, Sheila and I received so many comments about my Minimo. Lots of Americans had never seen a folding scooter before - they all wanted to know where to get one, 'Gee that's really neat' was a common reaction. Throughout our trip my Minimo and I were able to go exactly where we wanted as we hopped on and off the paddle steamer. The crew members were able to easily lift it into various mini-buses that would take us to the towns enroute. On arrival I was able to drive alongside my wife and sightsee with complete freedom, priceless. Storage and
charging was no problem, as we only needed to disconnect the wireless lightweight battery at night and take it to our room for plugging in. Without this portable scooter both my wife and I would not have been able to share such memorable experiences together. We will be strolling together side-by-side once again on the Isle of Wight very soon thanks to my Minimo."