BACK TO BLACK (& CHROME): DISABLED WRITER RETURNS TO DEGREE THANKS TO SECOND ‘HARLEY DAVIDSON’ TGA MOBILITY SCOOTER

TGA_mel_richardsDespite living with an MS-like condition that causes walking difficulties, Mel Richards, 43 from Edinburgh, has been able to continue enjoying a varied lifestyle and is applying to Higher Education thanks to a Supersport mobility scooter.

Mel was originally from Brisbane in Australia and able-bodied when she came to the UK on holiday between semesters at the University of Queensland over 20 years ago. Having arrived and almost immediately broken an ankle on the unfamiliarly snowy streets, her stay has extended slightly beyond the original twelve weeks planned. With the injury almost resolved Mel was offered a one-year office manager contract working in Stockport which subsequently progressed into a journalism career, writing for computing magazines including MacWorld, Internet Today and Secure Computing. This included another unexpected side trip onto the staff of a paranormal title working with Uri Geller and writing about ghosts, psychics and conspiracy theories for six months.

In 1998 and now in Wales writing about computer security, she was diagnosed with a progressive neurological condition that continues to restrict her career and lifestyle activities, even having moved to accessible accommodation in Edinburgh. Despite the mobility issues, Mel still remained keen to complete a Degree even after her previous course in Australia was cut short due to the development of her British writing career. Now Mel has a new ‘Harley Davidson’ style TGA mobility scooter, she has been able to independently travel to Ruskin College at Oxford (part of the Adult Residential College network) and is launching plans to enrol on a new Degree.

Mel said: “I have just taken ownership of my second TGA Supersport after nine years of remarkable independence given by my first model. As I live in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town and have major difficulties walking, I need a scooter that has the power to tackle steep hills and lots of cobbles – my Supersport just eats them up! It is such a strong, reliable machine that when needed, it can drive straight over uneven kerbs and gives me a comfortable seat out at Hogmany, the Military Tattoo, Festivals and loads of other public events. I get stopped all the time by people in Edinburgh who are taken aback by its ‘Harley Davidson’ looks and ask for details of where to get one – I’m thinking of making my own TGA business cards! With my replacement SuperSport and a new assistance dog called Kim, yes Mel and Kim no joke, I was able to do a test run by train to an Open Day at my new intended college in Oxford. I’m looking at the Foundation Degree in Business and Social Enterprise – all very exciting and means I will be able to get closure on my previous unfinished degree in Australia.”

Mel’s Supersport is a leading choice across the UK for individuals living with restricted mobility. It is a three-wheel, 8mph scooter with performance to tackle uneven terrain and off-road tracks and trails. It is first choice for many members of the Disabled Ramblers Association, which is a charity that organises rambles nationwide for mobility scooter users. The Supersport resembles more of a mini-motorbike that a mobility scooter and is engineered with black and chrome components. It is highly manoeuvrable and with the assistance of ramps, station staff and pre-booking, the Supersport is accepted onboard trains managed by certain operators such as East Coast, as per Mel’s recent experience.

Mel concludes: “My recent visit to Oxford was a great success. Famous for educating people from the Labour movement, including John Prescott, the campus at Old Headington and its new building have been specifically designed for maximium accessibility. It has large lifts, wide corridors and an excellent open plan layout. Now I have seen it all first-hand, I have peace of mind I can study and live independently at Ruskin College next year thanks to my trusty TGA Supersport.”

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