Matlock woman using social media and new wheelchair to show the way for disabled Peak District visitors
A disabled Matlock woman is hoping to help others enjoy the freedom of the Peak District, after landing a new all-terrain wheelchair which takes her to beauty spots she thought she had lost forever.
Naomi Wheeler, 27, was diagnosed with the neurological condition ataxia when she was 23, which quickly progressed to affect her balance, coordination, reflexes and speech.
After receiving her new chair, she has decided to begin documenting her life and excursions in the national park as @3wheeledrambler on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, which she hopes will be useful to other disabled travellers.
She said: “I’m the happiest I’ve been for a long time, which is why I decided to launch my social media accounts. I want to show a true picture of disability and if I can help someone else in a similar position then I will.”
Initially Naomi used a basic wheelchair for outdoor use, but using it for long periods caused her back and neck pain, so she went looking for something more suitable.
She comments: “I really wanted something that would reflect my personality and lifestyle. I’m young and live in the Peak District where disability can be extra challenging because of the terrain. I didn’t want to be limited. I have plans. I love to go and see my favourite places.
“The NHS offered me a heavy powerchair which couldn’t fit in our car and would require a lift. I knew it wouldn’t allow me to fulfil my dreams.”
Naomi was referred to mobility and rehabilitation specialists Recare Ltd in Oxfordshire, who let her trial the all-terrain Trekinetic GTE powered wheelchair.
She said: “I knew it was the wheelchair to get me places. However, I needed to pay some of the cost myself and unfortunately, I lost my job as a team leader in a charity call centre because of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Undeterred, Naomi and her neuro physiotherapist at Chesterfield Royal began applying to charities for support and eventually landed £4,000 in grants.
Naomi said: “I am thrilled to now be a Trekinetic owner. I have seen places I thought I would never see again. Before, there were days when I couldn’t be motivated by anything. I just went into my shell. Now, I’m tired as I’m going out so much but I’m so much more content.”