Off-road wheelchair gets nod

ON TRACK: Julian Ramsden has raised about $8000 towards an off-road wheelchair.
ON TRACK: Julian Ramsden has raised about $8000 towards an off-road wheelchair.

For two years, Motueka man Julian Ramsden has been fundraising for an off-road wheelchair.

Yesterday, he got to try out a new product which would allow him to get "off-road" with ease.

Designed in Germany, the ScoutCrawler consists of two caterpillar-style tracks that allow it to be used over various surfaces.

Mr Ramsden, 20, suffers from cerebral palsy and tried out the new machine at Tahunanui Beach, making tracks up and down the sand.

His father, Ian, said Mr Ramsden had absolutely loved it.

They had talked about getting an off-road wheelchair, or something similar, a few years ago, he said.

"We were down at the beach and trying to get him down here. He was getting a bit bigger, his chair wouldn't make it and I had to carry him down. We started talking about getting him a serious off-road chair."

Mr Ramsden had begun fundraising, firstly playing music at the Nelson Market then going to events such as the Buskers Festival in Christchurch.

That festival had been amazing, Ian Ramsden said, because New Zealand comedy and music duo the Topp Twins had stopped by.

The Twins had seen Mr Ramsden performing and said what a great job he was doing, to keep it up, and that they would look out for him.

Then, after their performance, they encouraged the crowd to drop their money in Mr Ramsden's hat, then split the collections they themselves had made.

They did the same the following day, and over those 48 hours Mr Ramsden raised $1400.

He has now raised close to $8000.

The ScoutCrawler was a new concept, but one worth considering because it would make a "big difference" for Mr Ramsden to get on to the beach, snow or even go across gravelled roads with ease, Ian Ramsden said.

It was easy to use, with users pushing their chair up on to the platform, clipping in and riding away.

Signe Bell, spokeswoman for Allied Medical which is getting behind the product, said they were holding "have a go" events throughout the country.

The products themselves were not cheap, at about $23,000 a pop, which deterred some people, she said. However, there was the potential for organisations to purchase one and then lend or hire it to users.

Feedback from people had shown they loved the idea, and would be interested to hire the ScoutCrawler for things like school camps or family holidays, Ms Bell said.

The Nelson Mail