Rebecca, Central London
Rebecca Major, aged 38, lives between Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross station in Central London. She is a barrister for the Financial Conduct Authority and has Cerebral Palsy (CP). Rebecca thrives in London and commutes to Canary Wharf.
As a full time powerchair user since her early teens, Rebecca has continually searched for an electric wheelchair that combines advanced manoeuvrability and style but without success. This has all changed with the discovery of WHILL.
Rebecca stopped walking aged 14 following an operation and subsequent difficulties with physiotherapy. However her CP has never held Rebecca back as she has completed eight degrees, lived abroad and qualified as a barrister in 2003. Since being called to The Bar and becoming a member of the Middle Temple, Rebecca has worked in financial services regulation and enforcement for 14 years. She has recently changed role to policy work for the general council.
Since moving to London in 2001 to study law she has enjoyed a city lifestyle however finding the right powerchair has always been a problem. As Rebecca has limited left arm movement she cannot self-propel so requires a powered solution. She owns a powerchair but it has become unsuitable for her needs so is currently waiting for assessment by Wheelchair Services. As TGA offer a free WHILL loan experience Rebecca applied to the scheme and is now trialling the product and recording a blog.
Rebecca explains: “I’ve been looking for a new powerchair for over three years as mine is on borrowed time. I’m looking for something attractive however this is proving impossible. When you sit in a wheelchair for 17-18 hours at a time you don’t want it to look unappealing. The WHILL is different, it is stylish, I am really enjoying my ownership experience.”
“The main challenge for me living in Central London is other people and being able to adjust to their movement. I live just off Trafalgar Square so there are lots of tourists and with a tube station at either end of my street, there are thousands of people walking through. The nearby ‘Boris bike’ hire is always busy with people coming and going so I need to be able to turn and stop sharply to avoid people. Pedestrians tend to move randomly and commonly stop in the middle of the road. You can plan for kerbs but you can’t plan for people! Now driving a WHILL I can easily weave around people and stop, turn and corner precisely and safely.”
“I have been using the WHILL to go to work on the Underground. From home it takes me 10 minutes to get to Westminster Tube Station where I join the Jubilee Line and get off at Canary Wharf. This section of line is fully accessible with lifts from ground to platform level. On arrival at the main tower I simply drive through the shopping mall and take the lift to my office on the 26th floor. At work I have the ability to get under desks with the seat slide so ‘hotdesking’ is not a problem, negotiating the office is hassle-free too.”
“WHILL is smooth and easy to control and has a good speed. It is really easy to get over kerbs and there is no kerb climber mechanism to get in the way of my feet. WHILL can go up a 3-inch bump in a straightforward manner. I use it every day. I use it to go to work, the shops, the cinema, to go everywhere. It is really different because there are no castors. I often find that if you are wearing trousers or a long dress, they can get trapped by castors so it is really quite useful to drive without worrying about that sort of thing. WHILL is really comfortable to sit in as it has a cushioned back.”
“The three major features for me are the different controller, the easy-lift armrests and the powered seat slide. You can just rest your palm on the computer mouse style controller which requires minimal pressure to move and the armrests are a lot lighter than other powerchairs. The seat slide means I can get under a desk at work or sit in a restaurant more comfortably which is a really useful tool. Having a choice in backrests is beneficial as you can be supported appropriately, I have the high backrest. The contoured back offers more lateral support.”
Rebecca concludes by summarising her plans for the coming weeks: “I have definitely got a couple of theatre trips coming up so it will be good to see how the WHILL squeezes into a small auditorium in the dark. I have a friend coming to stay so we’ll probably go down to Greenwich and around the Cutty Sark, either using the ferry from nearby Embankment or I’ll take the DLR. I eat out quite regularly so I have a few dinners booked and I might go to Paris with my WHILL for the day on the Eurostar. I feel confident in WHILL and would recommend it to everyone looking for a powered wheelchair – it has a lot of substance and style.”
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