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England international powerchair footballer Chris Gordon is now enjoying the independence of his very own VW Shuttle SE long wheelbase drive from vehicle thanks to Lewis Reed, one of the UK’s leading wheelchair accessible vehicle converters.
Chris was born with spinal muscular atrophy. As Chris progressed through primary school his muscles gradually deteriorated eventually had to use a manual wheelchair at school. As he grew, Chris, along with his parents felt that a powered wheelchair would be of more benefit as this would allow him to make his own way around school and not have to rely on friends or staff to push his manual chair.
Over the years, the Gordon family has had various wheelchair accessible vehicles to enable them to go out as a family but as more and more of his friends passed their driving tests he decided he wanted to do the same so started to look at drive from vehicles. “When you are younger, you don’t mind relying on friends and family to give you lifts but just because I am in a powerchair does not mean I should not have the same independence as everyone else. So, when I was 19 I took the plunge and started driving lessons using the vehicle I had at the time which had hand controls” explained Chris.
The driving test is exactly the same as for any able-bodied learner. As soon as Chris had his license his life changed. “As any teenager will tell you, passing your driving test is fantastic. But as someone who has had to rely on others more than most it made even more of a difference as I was then able to go where I wanted, when I wanted, although I did seem to quickly become the designated driver on a Friday night as I had a much larger vehicle than any of my friends”!!!.
From a very young age Chris has loved football. “My father has a football background, so I guess it was inevitable I would follow suit. However, as my muscles weakened due to my condition it soon became clear that I was not going to be able to play football with my mates however I still did my best to get involved”. Several years ago, Chris was invited to a powerchair football event and he immediately knew that his dream of playing for England was not over!
As part of his powerchair football, Chris has a specialist powerchair which means when he is travelling to games he has his day-to-day powerchair (which he drives from), his football powerchair, all his kit and either his parents, friends or team mates all in the vehicle. So, in 2016 they decided the time had come to look for a new vehicle which would offer more space and also allow Chris to continue to drive himself. After researching on line, Chris got in touch with Lewis Reed who suggested a VW Shuttle SE would meet his requirements.
“From the initial phone call, Lewis Reed were great. They bought a demonstration vehicle to me at home which saved me travelling to their HQ in Merseyside and after a test drive I knew the VW Shuttle SE would be my next set of wheels! I love it, it is very easy to drive despite being quite large and the conversion and space drive system meet all of my requirements. I would not hesitate in recommending Lewis Reed to anyone that is looking for a wheelchair accessible vehicle” concluded Chris.
Chris’s vehicle is fitted with a space drive system which operates wirelessly. The system incorporates two joystick controls, one to power the vehicle and accelerate / reverse and a second from which Chris steers.
The VW Shuttle SE driver vehicle generally comes with a number of seat arrangements to suit each individual allowing the wheelchair user to either drive from their wheelchair as in the case with Chris or transfer from the wheelchair to a driver seat using a 6 way seat or to choose to be an upfront or rear passenger. In Chris’s case should he decide he no longer wishes to drive (for example on a long journey or if he is tired after a match) all his passenger has to do is release Chris’s chair from the driving position and reinstate the original driver’s chair which sits behind the front passenger seat. Chris then secures himself and his chair into another space in the vehicle. Chris has a long wheel base model to ensure he can transport all his equipment and there is space for two wheelchairs which is vital for Chris when travelling to matches or training sessions.
For information on the full range of standard and optional features available on the VW Shuttle SE, please click here.
Lewis Reed is one of only three official Volkswagen WAV converters in UK. For more information on the full range of wheelchair accessible vehicles available from Lewis Reed call 0151 343 5360 or browse our website. You can also follow Lewis Reed on Twitter @lewisreedgroup and facebook /lewisreedwavltd.
Should you be interested in learning more about how Lewis Reed can help you, please either give us a call on 0151 343 5360, or by filling in the contact form below.