Young disabled Edinburgh artist futureproofs freedom with ‘confidence boosting’ mobility scooter
As a talented artist and musician, Ailsa Hay, 29 from East Lothian, has discovered mobility scooters ‘can be cool for younger users’ with ownership of a new Zest Plus from TGA
Ailsa graduated from Edinburgh Napier University with a degree in Photography and Filmmaking and is now a freelance illustrator, graphic designer and fine artist. Alongside her passion for drawing and design, she composes music and plays instruments including the guitar and ukulele. Despite living with arthritis since the age of three, Ailsa has not let her mobility difficulties get in the way of artistic expression, however today walking is a real challenge. Living on the scenic coast of east Scotland she was desperate to get out on her own for pleasure and inspiration.
Two manual wheelchairs had kept Ailsa mobile over the years but with arthritis now affecting Ailsa’s ability to self-propel, she really needed a powered product to keep independent. With a recent house move to an adapted bungalow, Ailsa felt it was time to start looking for a scooter however worried they would be old fashioned, “I didn’t want to be driving something that looked like I’d pinched it from an older person!” says Ailsa. Being familiar with the TGA brand, she decided to contact them for advice – assessor Harry came to see her with the modern answer Ailsa was looking for, a Zest Plus
As Ailsa can’t drive a car, she needed to find an alternative to get round on her own. Ailsa and her mum (and primary carer), looked at all sorts of vehicles including golf buggies, but they were too big and very expensive. A scooter seemed the best option however she needed something that would go off-road as well as on the pavement. TGA arranged a home assessment as Ailsa explains: “Harry from TGA came out to see me. He was a lovely guy, actually one of the neighbours recognised him as they have a TGA scooter too. There was no selling, Harry just wanted to suggest the best fitting scooter for me. I really needed something tailored to where I wanted to go locally. I wanted to visit the coast, drive off-road by the many golf courses near me but still be comfort on pavements. We both decided the Zest Plus with its larger wheels and suspension would be perfect.”
Ailsa can now go out and return home pain free as she continues: “Previously I could only manage a hundred metres and then had to sit down, I was always shattered when I got back home. Now I drive my Zest and it’s amazing, I get in and have no discomfort. It’s easy to drive and doesn’t put too much strain on my wrists when cornering. I can steer with one hand and swap hands if I’m having a bad day with either of my wrists. It feels awesome to be independent. My scooter packs into the back of my mum’s car in five bits for day trips. I haven’t had it long so have only been local so far but will be going further as the days warm up and hope to take it on holiday soon.
A key difference between Ailsa’s Zest Plus and her previous mobility products is that it is ‘futureproofed’. This means it will suit her needs in the future even if they change. As the tiller and seat can be adjusted Ailsa will stay comfortable and supported, something that is now not possible in her wheelchairs. Harry stressed the importance of this when they met, “If only the wheelchair salespeople had done the same,” comments Ailsa.
“Scooters are suitable for people of all ages; this gives me confidence and makes me feel good when I’m out.”
Right from the start Ailsa was very impressed with the testimonials she read from young people with TGA scooters. The thought of driving an old-fashioned scooter had put her off for some time but seeing the experiences of other people in their twenties changed her mind, “I can see any stigmatisation has gone. My Zest is attractive and shows off my personality.”
Ailsa displays her artwork at: www.artbyailsa.com