I became a wheelchair user when I was nine years old. Born with cerebral palsy, and unable to walk before the age of four, I later had a failed operation which gave me the seated identity I have today.
Contrary to most people's expectations, I'm really proud to be a wheelchair user. Life isn’t always easy, but it has most definitely never been boring. And the challenges I’ve faced have led to some incredible opportunities, both personally and professionally.
One was a trip to southern Africa with several other disabled people in the summer of 2008 where I quickly realised my capabilities and limitations as a disabled traveller, and the other was learning to drive at the age of 18.
Something that’s a rite of passage for most teenagers meant so much more to me – no longer having to rely on less-than-accessible public transport if I didn’t want to and, unlike the process of becoming a wheelchair user, the ability to have full control and autonomy over every journey I took for the first time.
If driving gave me that much freedom and independence, getting a car on the Motability Scheme really bumped it up a notch, as well as adding security and reassurance to any trip I embarked on.
Not only does the Scheme provide an affordable way of travel, it allows two of my loved ones to be named drivers for my car – invaluable when I’m having a particularly bad pain day, for example. I also don’t need to worry about maintenance, servicing, insurance or full breakdown cover, as this is all taken care of.
Being such a fan of the Motability Scheme, I was thrilled when Honda UK contacted me to ask if I’d like to borrow the Honda Jazz for a weekend and travel around the city of Glasgow, where I live, to visit my top accessible spots. Originally a Yorkshire girl, I’m always keen to show off my new home – a city full of welcoming warmth (the people, not the climate!) – and with so many things to do and see, I’ve still got loads of adventures to go on, even after living here for three years.
hoosing my top accessible spots in Glasgow wasn’t a simple task, but I eventually settled on these five places, all of which are also free (you’re welcome!):
If I had a magic pill, there are many things that I’d change about myself and the world before I reversed the fact that I am a wheelchair user. Having a disability affects every single aspect of my life, both positively and negatively; where I live, the work I’m involved in, the people I meet and have relationships with and, of course, the car I drive. But after this experience, at least I’ve got that one covered.