I’m Ada’s step-father, a lecturer with 14 years at Coleg Llandrillo and the driving force behind this project
One particular moment that remains a vivid memory was when we were travelling down the Conwy River in our home-made canoes (using materials from a local timber yard). As we approached the Conwy Estuary the tide was quite low which meant the river was colliding with the undulating, sandy river bed and creating some substantial “white-water”. Ada and I wanted to make a bee-line for the “rapids” but with no idea if our home-made canoes were up to the job (essentially they’re made of the sort of thin ply you get on the back of flat-pack wardrobes) , mum understandably wanted to go around. Much to my delight and mum’s dismay, we were at the complete mercy of the elements and got drawn towards the rapids. Excitement building we braced ourselves as we were swept in. We were pummelled by the waves which threatened to sink our canoes but eventually we made it through unscathed. I’ll never forget the moment that Ada, sat at the front of the canoe, turned to face me with a smile from ear to ear, punched both hands in the air and yelled “That was awesome!!!”. We dropped mum and the boys on the river bank and went back to do it again!!!
Why is this project important?
For me, I’ve lost my partner in crime. Ada and I were out having adventures all the time, be that canoeing, mountain biking, climbing or whatever, we both feel like there’s a part of our lives that’s missing.
Importantly for Ada, or at least the way I see it, winning the Junior Adventurer competition was a monumental turning point in her life. She’s been through far more than any little girl should be put through and winning the adventure map competition was a pivotal moment where she could put, where we all could put, past events behind us.
Lo and behold, almost overnight, the carpet was swept from under her and ME is just one more ordeal in a long chain of events for Ada to have to overcome.
Building this wheelchair will give me back my adventure partner, and will help to reignite at least one little girl’s love for life.
Will I be able to do it?
When I was young I didn’t make Christmas easy for my parents. Whenever Santa brought me electronic toys such as radio controlled cars, stereos, and keyboards, much to my parent’s dismay I’d spend much of Christmas Day dismantling them. I loved seeing how things worked and putting them back together again.
As a teenager I’d saved up for my first car and one of the first things I did with my Mk2 Ford Escort was pull out the 1.3 engine and replace it with a bigger one. My father is a chief engineer in the merchant navy so I guess I drew inspiration from him but really my own background has been more computer focused.
I started programming in MS Basic at the age of 8 on a hand-me-down TRS-80. Taking weeks and weeks to copy novel sized code examples (and saving to 5¼-inch floppy disks) which resulted in games similar in complexity to Pong. Back in the days before the world wide web and mobile phones, this was pretty amazing to an 8-year-old me.
Although I’m an experienced web developer, the field of computing which has captured my imagination the most has been 3D animation and it’s in this sector that I hold a Master’s Degree.
Over the last few years though my attention has turned to electronics projects focused around the amazing Raspberry Pi. And earlier this year the culmination of all my experience came together when I started exploring 3D printing. Being able to draw 3D images on a computer and then turn them into tangible real world objects using machines which I’ve designed and built myself is endlessly satisfying.
Will I be able to do it? The truth is, I don’t know. Although I have some engineering experience it hardly qualifies me for the job. What I do have in abundance is an ability to learn and of course… the motivation!