Despite living with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, Steven Foot from Marnhull, Dorset, has been able to regain independence outdoors and re-live his passion for cross-country point-to-point horseracing, thanks to a community-donated TGA Breeze with off-road capabilities.
Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP) is a rare neurological condition that affects approximately 1 in every 10,000 people. It causes severe mobility difficulties from the waist down, similar to the affects of Multiple Sclerosis and there is no known cure. Before his condition became too severe, Steven owned a successful equestrian transportation business that fulfilled his love of the outdoors and animals. Following the reluctant sale of his business, Steven was forced to spend considerably more time indoors with restrictions on his outdoor independence – this has just changed thanks to the support of his local community. Instigated by the national HSP Support Group and its relationship with The Old Thatch pub near Wimborne, donations have been raised to purchase a new, state-of-the-art TGA mobility scooter so Steven can once again access the countryside.
Customers and staff at The Old Thatch pub have worked together to raise £5,000 to purchase this new robust Breeze S4 GT mobility scooter. This is the same type of scooter that won the Top Gear extreme mobility scooter challenge, which was broadcast on BBC2. In this episode, a disabled war veteran raced against the Top Gear presenters up a rugged, rocky Welsh mountainside on a Breeze S4 GT and successfully reached the summit first. Steven will now be able to tackle local rural tracks and fields on his TGA scooter as it has an 8mph top speed, wide high-grip tyres and extra power and performance. Owning this Breeze has only been made possible by several fundraising activities since September and a kind discount by the scooter supplier, TGA. Donations have been gathered from a sponsored skydive by four members of pub staff and relatives, collection tins and car washing at The Old Thatch. These funds were dramatically increased when, in support of a local resident in need, the Sturminster Newton Round Table made a generous donation. This allowed the HSP Support Group to purchase the Breeze and organise a surprise presentation to Steven at the pub.
Ian Bennett, HSP Support Group Chairman commented: “Following one of our regular meetings at the Old Thatch pub, we decided that we’d like to raise funds to support a Dorset resident affected by HSP. Following a period of communication with all individuals concerned, Steven was selected as the ideal recipient. We were all determined to pull together to raise funds so Steven could regain freedom again outdoors. I would like to thank everyone so much for helping us reach this target especially our skydivers; the management staff and customers of the pub; Wimborne Garden Centre; Sturminster Newton Round Table and TGA who gave us a discount on the Breeze. TGA were moved by our story and have been so supportive in terms of scooter supply and delivery. Well, when we organised the surprise party and presentation at the pub for Steven, his reaction on arrival was priceless – he was so chuffed and emotional, as we all were! What a special occasion it was, made even better with the local band called Wayward playing for free in support of Steven. This scooter will change his life no end as Steven is now free to drive around the countryside and is already planning to attend point-to-point events once more. As the HSP Support Group is a national charity, we will now be rolling out similar fundraising activities across the country whilst raising awareness of the condition.”
Steven Foot concluded: “I am overwhelmed by the generosity of my local community and friends and can not thank everyone enough for changing my life. My new TGA Breeze delivers such a comfortable and stable ride so I can drive across fields and along off road tracks with ease. I’ve missed my contact with horses and animals so much in recent years, whereas now this Breeze will open up my beloved outdoor lifestyle once more.”