Burnham-On-Sea Rotary Club has made a “life changing” donation of a high-tech wheelchair to a disabled local teenager to help make his family’s life a little easier.
Bradley Bedford, 16, loves to visit Burnham beach with his parents, Ken and Michaela, but they have struggled to push him through the sand and along mobility ramps using a conventional wheelchair.
When Burnham-On-Sea Rotary Club heard about the youngster’s plight, they stepped in to help and, this week, outgoing Rotary President Terry Spragg has presented the family with a new £800 wheelchair to help ease the mobility issues.
The couple has thanked the Rotary for their “wonderful, life-changing donation.”
Ken told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Bradley was born early and there were complications – he stopped breathing so an emergency caesarean was needed. He was born with a bleed on the brain which has caused him to have left side weakness. He cannot free stand, he can only ‘bum shuffle’ to get movement.”
“There is often a lot of heavy lifting involved for myself or my wife, which has become more difficult as he’s got older.”
“He was also diagnosed with epilepsy during his early years and he needed a brain operation to resolve that, but his mobility is still there. We knew he was never going to be able to walk – that’s just the way it is.”
When the family moved to Burnham from Birmingham, they noticed that Bradley’s whole demeanour completely changed. “He loves the quietness, his special school at Elmwood near Bridgwater, and visiting the beach, which really has a positive impact on him.”
But Ken adds that moving Bradley onto the beach has been a struggle. “When we were younger we were able to lift him onto the sands and then carry his conventional wheelchair on separately but because he’s now older and bigger, we just can’t keep carrying him. The wheelchair that we’ve got is just not suitable – when you start pushing it, it just digs into the sand and you end up in a trench and become stuck.”
“We were struggling to know where to go and then the Rotary Club contacted us after hearing about the problem through Burnham Medical Centre.”
Burnham Rotary Club’s Terry Spragg says: “When I heard about Bradley’s plight, we got in touch and it took a lot of discussions and searching, but we came up with the Invictus Active wheelchair. This company produces a lot of sports wheelchairs like the ones used by Paralympians and it’s just what Bradley needs. It’s very lightweight, easier to move over different surfaces, and we had some strong axel pins installed by Brent Engineering to further help. The Rotary Club has been keen to help.”
Ken adds: “This will have a massive impact on our life. It is a game-changer, it is life changing because now we can use the beach together as a family again.”
“The new wheelchair means we can do things together as a family with our two other children as well, aged 12 and 14. Now, rather than splitting up into separate groups to help Bradley, we can be together.”
“His disability shouldn’t really be a factor in him enjoying the beach.”
“Burnham beach doesn’t really fully cater for disability users – we have a disabled ramp onto the beach, but unless you go scuba diving when you get to the bottom it’s difficult to use. There are other access points for wheelchair users, but you’ve got to fight your way through really soft sand. We have struggled for the last 4-5 years.”
“We say a huge, huge thank you to the Rotary Club for all their support.”
Pictured: Burnham-On-Sea wheelchair user Bradley Bedford with his parents Ken and Michaela plus Burnham Rotary Club’s Terry Spragg