As I’ve said many times before, my engineering background is extremely limited, yet this mountain wheelchair project demands experience in a wide range of engineering disciplines. As such, I have needed to spend considerable time in online forums seeking advice from people with more experience than myself. The forums, and the advice received, have been instrumental and I would not have been able to get this far without them. That being said, at times, some of the feedback I’ve received has been a little disheartening. For example:
“I don’t think I would let my daughter climb up a path like that in a vehicle on wheels and especially knowing she would need to roll down again”.
“Are you really planning on letting your daughter descent those steep parts on 6 bicycle disk brakes all the way down? That will be a workshop with a ‘steep’ learning curve in down hill biking”.
“The more I think this through the more I dislike the idea. Especially as you don’t seem to be very knowledgeable in this area (neither am I BTW) so it looks like this might end in tears. Please rethink this challenge and don’t risk your daughters health or worse with what seems a noble cause”.
Whilst I’m able to shrug these comments off with what might be considered determined ignorance, Ada on the other hand hasn’t yet developed this skill and comments like this have somewhat diminished her sense of hope in the project.
Although these comments have no impact on my desire to keep pushing on, I have of late been coming home from work completely exhausted and finding it difficult to keep working on the wheelchair.
To try and reduce my workload, I had been questioning how useful this blog is. I mean, who actually reads it anyway? Less time blogging means more time for building right?
As chance would have it, just as thoughts of discontinuing the blog were starting to run through my mind, in quick succession we received a number of messages through our Facebook page. For example:
“I am watching what you are achieving with great interest”.
“I love reading your site. Keep it up! I’m 33 now and have grown up in a wheelchair my whole life. There is nothing I haven’t been able to do with a little bit of planning, effort and engineering”.
“I used to be a fell runner and miss getting out on the hills […] This wheelchair would give me the opportunity to get out and explore and enjoy the off beat track again. I want this chair! I love the design it is so upbeat and mountain cracking!”.
“Good luck with everything you are both inspirational”.
On top of this, in the very same week, I was sat at my desk in work when a colleague came in brandishing an envelope which she suspected belonged to me. I didn’t know of any other G Davidson in the college so I proceeded to open it. I was absolutely gobsmacked when I did! It was a letter of encouragement from the Welsh Assembly! The letter reads;
“Dear Mr and Miss Davidson, I am writing to congratulate you both on your inspiring ambition to create a specialised mountain wheelchair in order to continue your adventurous outdoor exploits.
I understand that Myalgic Encephalomyelities, or ME, can make it very difficult to continue pursuing a variety of activities, particularly as the models of mobility aids available are not designed for the rich and wild terrains that we have in [North Wales]. Therefore, your determination to continue pursuing the activities you enjoy, and think creatively to solve these problems is especially commendable, and should be a model for us all.
With all the hard work and gritty determination that you have both shown, I have every confidence that you will fulfil your ambition to reach the top of Snowdon, and i hope you take the time to reflect on your journey there when you do.”
The kind words both from the assembly member and from the followers on Facebook offered an immense boost in motivation and I’d like to thank you all for taking the time to write to us. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me and has given me the impetus to keep the blog going. When Ada read the messages her face lit up, then she walked away doing a little dance with a smug look look on her face :)
Whilst I’m here, I’d also like to say thank you to one person on Facebook who consistently shares all of my posts and helps to encourage interest in the mountain wheelchair project. If you’re reading this Mervyn, then thank you, your support is deeply appreciated.
It’s Friday today and in a few hours the college will be breaking up for Easter. Hopefully this means a short break for myself to recharge my batteries and then it’s back to building the mountain wheelchair with renewed focus and fewer distractions. Lots of parts and tools have arrived from overseas so hopefully I’ll be able to make substantial progress. Watch this space…