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A Local Connection

A Local Connection
27th February 2017 Nazia White

We pride ourselves at Carers Gloucestershire on trying to find creative solutions to Carers’ problems, which, as you might imagine, can  involve our teams linking up with many and  varied organisations, near and far. Recently, we were delighted to find an elegant solution to a particular problem almost literally on our own doorstep.

The Advice Team had been contacted by a Parent Carer about finding an adapted trike for her disabled child. After much research, the team found there was a nationally acclaimed and award winning manufacturer of specially adapted vehicles right here in Gloucester.

Knowing that the company, Tomcat, would be of interest to a good number of Carers, we went along to talk to them. However, Tomcat thought our readers would like to hear from a Carer who benefited from their work. so Caring Matters duly caught up with Louise, mother of young son Curtis, who has CHARGE Syndrome, which affects all of his senses, including impaired sight …

Caring Matters: Louise, tell us about Curtis and bikes

Louise: Curtis loves anything with wheels. He would look at other children in the park on their bikes or through the window of the local bike shop but I had never even considered the possibility that he would be able to ride one. He has no natural balance system because he is missing the bones in his ears, so he can’t sit up on his own.

CM: So, what led you to Tomcat?

Louise: A friend of mine had a Tomcat for her child, and Curtis had a try on his. He absolutely loved it. He would sit on it, supported, and I would take him to the park -he would have the biggest smile on his face.

CM: What happened next?

Louise: It started with quite a lengthy conversation with Bob Griffin, the designer of the trike. . I told him about Curtis’s additional needs, I was afraid that Bob would stop me and say it wasn’t possible but Bob didn’t seem fazed by anything I was saying. It seemed that there was nothing that couldn’t be done to make the trike work for Curtis.

CM: But a Tomcat is an expensive item, as each one is made bespoke. How did you overcome the financial implications?

Louise: After speaking to Bob and I got a quote in the post, I started to look for someone who could fund the trike. Some people can be put off by the price but my advice would be to look past that and onto all the benefits they will be getting. Curtis’s trike was funded by the local ‘Lions Club. I wrote them a letter asking for help with funding, and they snatched my hand off wanting to help and offered to fund the whole trike. I was so pleased …

CM: And how has the Tomcat changed things for Curtis?

Louise: I see it as a rite of passage for every child: to get their first bike. Curtis’s Tomcat allows us to go to the park like every other family.

CM: And for you?

Louise: Being a Carer can feel like you’re always  coming up against barriers. But there are things that are really worth pushing and fighting for. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does -like Curtis getting his trike -it feels brilliant and makes everything worthwhile.

CM: Thank you Louise.

Caring Matters would like to thank Louise for sharing
her story with us and also Sarah Yeomans from Tomcat, who helped conduct the interview with Louise and assisted with this feature.

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