Claire Banks and her Whill C - TGA Mobility
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24th October, 2020

“Incredible levels of independence” Claire Banks and her Whill C

Claire Banks from Colchester, who has Multiple Sclerosis, is now experiencing ‘incredible levels of independence’ through ownership of the pioneering WHILL powerchair from TGA.

WHILL Model C represents a breakthrough in contemporary mobility product design. Developed by talented Japanese engineers and designers, WHILL Model C is unlike any other affordable powered wheelchair – it combines revolutionary aesthetics, manoeuvrability and comfort with advanced transportability. Termed a Personal Electric Vehicle, WHILL Model C has been specifically developed for style-conscious individuals who seek a contemporary product for assured independence and a confident lifestyle. Owners have the ability to access urban and rural environments either for leisure or work, through a streamlined chassis and world-class performance.

Aged 44, Claire lives with her partner Darren and was diagnosed with MS 14 years ago. Claire has walking and mobility difficulties and previously worked as a Production Executive for a publishing company. Before discovering WHILL Model C, Claire was dependent on a powered wheelchair provided by Statutory Services which unfortunately did not provide the comfort and independence she craved. Claire explains: “Darren is always researching equipment online that might help me and had been following the development of WHILL products for some time. When WHILL Model C was launched he contacted TGA immediately to arrange an assessment and test drive. My NHS powerchair was holding me back, especially around my home, whereas WHILL Model C is completely different, I love it. It is incredible and has made so many of the little things in life possible.”

WHILL Model C incorporates pioneering all-directional Omni front wheels which deliver the smallest feasible turning circle ideal for negotiating tight public and private spaces. Combined with hi-tech steering controls and advanced battery technology, WHILL Model C is redefining powerchair design.

Claire continues: “Activities such as accessing cupboards, sitting under desks and feeding the fish in the garden are all now easy. You may think these tasks sound mundane, but when you are stuck at home, commonly on your own, life can be so frustrating. WHILL Model C takes this away. I can drive and position myself in the tightest of spaces so cooking and gardening is far easier. The flip-up armrests make sitting at a table much more comfortable and transferring out is seamless. Within a matter of hours I would be in discomfort when sitting in my NHS wheelchair, not with WHILL, I feel great all day. Access indoors is beyond anything I have experienced since living with MS and when we are away from home, I can access disabled facilities on my own. Again, if you are able bodied you may not appreciate how much this means. I do not have to keep asking Darren to help me, he politely encourages me to go and do it myself, it is such a positive feeling.”

WHILL Model C can be dismantled into three lightweight components ideal for storage in a car boot or at home. Claire has already taken her powerchair in a taxi and a friend’s car – lifting and handling was fast and straightforward.

Claire continues: “I have only owned my WHILL Model C for a couple of weeks, nevertheless the opportunities and abilities I now have are already remarkable. I can walk and talk side-by-side with Darren around our local High Woods Country Park and across most surfaces without the worry of losing control. Thanks to WHILL’s front wheels I can turn left or right instantly to avoid walkers, especially when they stop or move randomly. In my previous chair it took so long to stop which affected my confidence. When I am out, so many people come up to me to find out about my powerchair, they think it looks amazing.”

Claire concludes: “We are planning to take my WHILL on the train and also to Brightlingsea where I was originally from, I love the sea air. Darren is already looking into air travel. Closer to home I now have the opportunity to watch my beloved Carlisle United when they play at Colchester, without having to sit with opposition fans in the fully accessible areas. I have been a life-long supporter of Carlisle thanks to my Dad who was born there.

“WHILL Model C is truly a life-changer for both Darren and I – it doesn’t just help me, it helps everyone around me. Independence is a word not to be taken lightly, it means so much especially when you have experienced losing it.”

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