Despite living with MS, Caroline Gray from Bromley, Kent, has been able to continue getting out and performing in her acapella singing group thanks to a TGA Eclipse known as 'Scooty' and its onboard companion 'Spybear.'
Caroline was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis over 25 years ago. However it has only been in the past year that she has developed mobility problems. Following early medical retirement from a position in local government, Caroline retrained to become an independent Counsellor. Now she runs her own practice and outside of work, Caroline's ability to access performing arts venues, the coast and countryside has been maintained by a compact mobility scooter nicknamed 'Scooty'.
This orange TGA Eclipse scooter dismantles into four easy-to-lift parts so Caroline can take it in the car. She is dependent on her Eclipse for independence away from the car especially when negotiating busy locations such as Bluewater shopping complex,exhibitions and galleries. These journeys and other 'adventures' around rural destinations are all recorded on her Twitter account - posting as 'Spybear'.
Her toy bear Oliver travels with Caroline and reports on various items ranging from access issues through to positive experiences out and about.
Caroline explains: "Scooty, Oliver and I go adventuring everywhere together now. Scooty has made such a difference to my life. Before buying my Eclipse I had tried other mobility scooters but they scared me and were jerky. My Eclipse is smooth and easy to drive; I really liked all the different colours it was available in and had to go for one which matched as far as possible my orange Motability car. Walking any distance is so painful for me these days but my scooter allows me to continue enjoying trips out without discomfort."
Caroline continues: "I have been tweeting using a "spy" bear character for some time but when I bought Scooty I put an orange Spybear in the basket and took photos wherever we went on "missions". It soon developed on Twitter into #olivers&scootysadventures. I really want to encourage young people to see that scooters are not scary and just for old people; I may develop this into a blog. If you are young and you have a disability, why not drive a scooter, as they can look great these days."
"Onboard Scooty I can enjoy so many more places pain-free... Kew Gardens... National Trust... The Thames path in London...it's all so possible now. I have also been a member of Trade Winds, a female acapella singing group based in South London for about seven years. We have performed in many venues in the South East and on three occasions in France, but as my mobility has worsened I found I was unable to participate as much as before. Having Scooty this year has enabled me to access and perform in venues that would have been impossible without him, including The Southbank Centre and The Roundhouse in London."
Caroline concludes: "Now access is not such a problem my confidence and independence has returned. Scooty is so compact he'll fit in lifts and other tight spaces without any problem. He's very handsome as well and I do come across lots of scooter envy from others users. Trade winds has been invited to perform on the Shetland Isles in 2016 so this maybe the biggest adventure yet for Scooty, Oliver and myself."