Airpower takes on Wheelpower at RAF Halton

Jane Reilly  |  Published: May 2nd 2017

Rotary Clubs around the country have transported a Murderball wheelchair from Manchester to Stoke Mandeville Hospital by whatever eccentric means they could. The wheelchair was provided by Wheelpower, a charity which encourages wheelchair sport, which is based at the Guttmann Centre in Stoke Mandeville, birthplace of the Paralympic Games.  It arrived at RAF Halton April 24th by glider and the final leg of the journey was by steam car to the Guttmann Centre. The event was to publicise the opening of the Paralympic Games 2017.

Sponsored by the Rotary Club, Wheelpower has a project this year to provide an appropriate sports bag of equipment for each Spinal Unit in the project.

The event commenced in Manchester on Saturday 8th April, at ‘The Rotary In Great Britain and Ireland Conference’, when broadcaster and paralympian Ade Adepitan set the wheelchair on its journey. The units visited were in Dublin, Glasgow, Sheffield, Wakefield, Oswestry, Cardiff, Salisbury, Stanmore and Stoke Mandeville. In addition, the wheelchair travelled to Bedford (home of the Wheelchair Challenge) where it was transported on the River Great Ouse on a dragon boat.

The penultimate journey by a glider from the London Gliding Club landed at RAF Halton’s airfield and was then carried by steam car to the hospital. The convoy of cars consisted of a 1904 Ford Model A, the first car to be produced by the Ford Motor Company. A 1934 Wolseley Hornet Special, a 1901 Toledo Steam Carriage, which carried the wheelchair, and a Vauxhall 30-98 Light Tourer.

Jim Gregory, President of the Rotary Club Berkhamsted & Bulbourne, and Steam Car Driver, said: “On behalf of Rotary Club Berkhamsted & Bulbourne and Rotary Club Wendover, please accept my profound thanks to the RAF for assisting us with our Wheelchair Challenge project which completed with the safe delivery of the wheelchair to the Stoke Mandeville Spinal Unit and its final destination at the Dr Ludwig Guttman Stadium to launch the 2017 games.”

You may like to know that from Halton we took the chair in convoy along the route, visiting local schools full of excited and delightful children along the way. We arrived at the Stoke Mandeville Spinal Unit and conducted the official handover to Olivia, the head trainer at the Unit. The final handover to the spinal unit team at the Guttman Stadium took place early evening where the official opening of the games took place. Without support from people and organisations like the RAF our quest to help others less fortunate than ourselves is severely hampered.”

Flying Officer Connor Frampton from the airfield said: “The Rotary clubs across the country should be proud of their effort towards this great cause and so are we at RAF Halton. It was a pleasure to be able to help out.”

Officer Commanding Operations and Plans Wing, Wing Commander Karen Moran, said: “Working with the Rotary Club our Operations team have demonstrated RAF Halton’s strong ethos of community support. Furthermore, as a home for RAF Sport, it is particularly rewarding to support a charity that transform lives through sport.”

sport in progress
sport in progress
cheque presentation
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