John O'Groats to Land's End has proved a gruelling trek for many a fundraiser. For ex-serviceman Simon Angel the journey was all the more challenging because he completed all 874 miles of it on a mobility scooter and raised nearly 10,000 for injured servicemen along the way.
Mr Angel, 46, from Pembury, Kent, served with the Royal Engineers for 22 years and his front line experience in Northern Ireland and the Gulf War led to him receiving an MBE in 2000. He retired in 2005. Following his wartime traumas he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and after being fit and active all his life Mr Angel found his declining mobility hard to deal with. He said: "All my life I'd been a get up and go guy and suddenly I was grounded so for a while I sat around and just felt sorry for myself. However, during a period of convalescence and treatment for combat stress when I was chatting to fellow ex-military personnel I had this idea of organising The Rally For Remembrance." Mr Angel approached the mobility equipment specialist TGA Mobility for help in making his marathon ride from Britain's most northerly point to its southerly tip a reality. He had originally planned to make the trip last October then head for London and the annual remembrance service at the Cenotaph in November but the plans fell through and the trip was cancelled.
Mr Angel said: "Christmas came and went and everything was still on the back-burner. It was my wife Elaine who really encouraged me to reschedule it and with the help of TGA Mobility, who provided me with a top of the range Breeze 4, a Rolls Royce of a scooter plus a back up scooter and extra batteries, The Rally For Remembrance finally got under way in April." The plan was to cover about 30 miles daily. With the exception of two days of 30mph headwinds in the Cairngorms the weather was kind and allowed Mr Angel and his support rider Mick Weaving to enjoy some of the country's most spectacular and rugged landscapes. "When you are driving a car you can't appreciate the views but when you are travelling at 8mph on a scooter the scenery is just breathtaking. The Scottish Highlands, The Pennines and The Yorkshire Dales provided some of the most stunning views I've ever seen," said Mr Angel.
Mr Angel and Mr Weaving also made brief visits to the UK's year-round centre of remembrance The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire and Wiltshire's Wootton Bassett, a town synonymous with honouring the war dead where they met members of The Royal British Legion before heading south west towards Land's End.
The journey was completed ahead of schedule in 30 days and was boosted by public support along the way. Mr Angel added: "The Rally For Remembrance was an unbelievable experience and The Royal British Legion (RBL) network, especially the RBL bikers, provided amazing support throughout the journey. The TGA Breeze 4 performed magnificently throughout the voyage and didn't let me down once. It is an amazing piece of kit." Having enjoyed his adventure through Britain Mr Angel is planning to broaden his horizons and is contemplating a continental challenge, possibly by riding a mobility scooter from Spain to the UK. He said: "I am fascinated by what is possible with the latest mobility equipment. I'd be interested to see if they can develop a solar powered scooter. Although my own circumstances have changed dramatically and I will admit that I still have days where I find it difficult to motivate myself it is good to have a sense of purpose in life."
Mr Angel is now looking forward to being TGA Mobility's guest of honour at The Mobility Roadshow in Peterborough. The company will be showcasing a number of products at the show including the new wheelchair NuDrive propulsion system and the TGA Breeze 4, the latest version of the scooter that helped Mr Angel complete his 900-mile challenge. You don't have to be planning a marathon trek to benefit from the use of a mobility scooter, however. Models range from small compact scooters that can be easily taken apart to fit in a car boot and reassembled elsewhere to the four and five-wheeled versions built to cover longer distances and provide much greater stability. The most important thing is to take expert advice to ensure your scooter will meet your own needs and allow you to enjoy the lifestyle you choose.