A Breeze mobility scooter kindly supplied by TGA alongside a highly customised Supersport, have both successfully completed an extreme challenge on a Welsh mountain in association with Help for Heroes for the BBC Top Gear programme (broadcast 19 February 2012, BBC Two, 8pm).
TGA is a family-run business based in Sudbury, Suffolk, with a proven reputation for providing the widest range of quality mobility scooters across the UK since 1985. Not only are its products renowned for delivering exceptional ‘life value’, its market-leading customer service representatives have recently won the prestigious BHTA (British Healthcare Trades Association) Team of the Year Award 2011.
As a leading specialist in mobility, TGA was approached by the BBC with a view to loaning a scooter for the programme which Daniel Stone, TGA Managing Director explains: “TGA is well known across the UK for supplying the most reliable and robust scooters in the marketplace, however when the Top Gear researchers contacted us, I knew this forthcoming challenge would push our products to the absolute limit. The challenge was to involve a dramatic race between two teams up a rugged mountain on the Glanusk Estate in the Brecon Beacons, Wales. Three disabled war veterans in association with the charity Help for Heroes were to compete against the BBC Top Gear presenters who would ride radically customised second hand scooters. The BBC needed robust scooters with proven off road capabilities and their researchers had obviously reviewed several larger scooters from a variety of suppliers before selecting the TGA Breeze 4S. They deemed it a model capable of tackling extreme rural terrain even though it is primarily engineered as a robust and luxurious scooter for everyday use. We supplied the GT version that has wider wheels for extra traction and stability, plus heavy-duty batteries to give maximum range and power. We felt confident it would perform to the best of its ability and deliver 100% reliability, however we were a little apprehensive as the filming date approached anticipating a challenge which would undoubtedly be extraordinarily extreme.”
Approximately 8 million TV viewers tuned in to watch this episode which involved a race up the side of this well-known, rugged Welsh mountain. To reach the summit involved tackling inclines of 1-in-3, tracks covered in boulders, soggy thick mud and an overall distance which would test battery capabilities far beyond the norm. The race began around 8:30am on a cold January day at the base of the mountain and quickly unfolded into the usual format associated with Top Gear features of this nature. Riding the Breeze, Nick Gibbons and the other ex-soldiers took a more tactical, planned route to the top instead of the direct route taken by the TV presenters. James May and eventually Jeremy Clarkson became immobile as the terrain proved too tough for their chosen machines, however Richard Hammond continued on his Supersport which was modified with caterpillar tracks and a petrol engine.
Daniel continues: The Breeze is a very rugged scooter but is designed for everyday use, whether that is a trip to the shops or a journey in the countryside. The environment featured on the programme was extreme and the other products it competed against were solely designed for this type of terrain. The ground conditions were particularly difficult as the combination of frost followed by rain had produced unrelenting, slippery surfaces exacerbated by steep inclines. Working as a team, the Help for Heroes soldiers managed to overcome most obstacles and the Breeze only needed assistance in a couple of situations. The wider wheels and extra torque made all the difference and Nick said its stability was incredible even when turning on inclines. Bearing in mind one of the BBC crew’s 4×4 vehicles became stuck several times during the ascent and the other two products tipped over luckily without injury to their drivers, I am really proud of how our TGA scooter coped under these exceptional circumstances. It remained stable throughout the ascent and proves why it is first choice for so many less able individuals across the UK looking for a safe scooter they feel comfortable on.”
Daniel concludes: “As daylight began to fade, I was delighted to witness the ex-soldiers reach the top of the mountain with the HD Breeze GT looking in great shape and still having enough battery power for the return journey. Some time after the Union Jack was raised and flares were lit to signal their victory, Richard Hammond did eventually reach the top on his converted Supersport but the disabled veterans had already won the challenge. Out of six scooters that began the race, only four finished of which two were TGA based-products, which is testament to their strength, reliability and build quality. During the filming back at the Top Gear studio, the challenge was well received by all the audience however the perceived high cost of mobility scooters was highlighted. The TGA Breeze was cheaper than the other two scooters featured on the hillside, which consisted of a powerful 3- wheeler and a 4WD powerchair both of which were more specialised off-road machines. However the Breeze compared favourably and remained stable and safe even when negotiating slippery slopes and rugged terrain. Richard Hammond suggested that car manufacturers should begin producing scooters to reduce the price but this is not really a fair comparison as the car industry is generally about mass produced products and massive volumes. Mobility scooters are different to cars in so many respects, they are in fact medical devices designed and made to very different criteria. Saying that though, many thanks to the BBC who helped us demonstrate the amazing capabilities of the Breeze model. When you consider this TGA Breeze is not a specialist off-road vehicle, its achievements on BBC Top Gear are even more impressive.”