A MASSIVE thanks from Mike

I guess there’s no other place to start than by saying a massive THANK YOU to everyone who has made this dream possible.

 

I’m delighted to report that I took delivery of my new drive from wheelchair vehicle which is already providing me with a new lease of life and some long sought-after independence.

 

Primarily the immediate praise should be for my very good friends for over a quarter of a century, Damian Whittard and Paul Caines who dreamt up this crazy plan of me driving again and who kicked off the fundraising effort on the 18th of April 2009 (after numerous weather delays) by throwing themselves out of a plane somewhere over the Wiltshire countryside with a tandem parachute jump.

 

My huge gratitude also goes to my wife Stefanie along with the other members of the GetDringMobile committee which was made up of David Coales, Tracy Evans and my mum Viv, alongside Paul and Damian.

 

It’s impossible to thank everyone individually (although I will be thanking you when I see you in person) but I would like to say a very special thank you to the following people who have put on some amazing fundraising events as well as making some amazing personal gestures with the time and effort they have put in.

 

  • Damien and Paul’s wives Kelly and Sadia and their families (particularly Kelly’s parents and friends), Jim & Sally Whittard & Ashley & Vicki Woodford and all of their friends and associates.
  • Bristol Evening Post especially Tom Morris.
  • Hywel Jones and his brigade of chefs from Lucknam Park Manor.
  • Mary McCarthy & Dreweatts auction house.
  • The Urban Art Association and it’s members
  • All of the hundreds of artists who contributed their work and time and in particular Nick Walker & Vincent Brown.
  •  Tim Brain and his band Journey up the Wood.
  •  Edward Gillespie, Director of Cheltenham racecourse.
  • Sir Bernard Lovell School
  • Keynsham Bowls club

 

Also HUGE & IMMENSE thanks to everyone who has taken part in and hosted the following events.

 

  • The sponsored walk from Bristol to Cheltenham including the first leg from Oldland to Syston Common which was a great occasion and family and friends.
  • Bristol 10 K
  • Bath half Marathon
  • Golf days at Knowle & Chipping Sodbury golf clubs.
  • The ladies day and tea party
  •  Numerous nonuniform days at different schools.
  •  The Autumn Ball at the Grand Hotel in Bristol.
  • Triathlons.
  • Numerous benefit gigs and concerts.
  • Quiz night’s. 
  • Children’s obstacle courses.
  • Coffee mornings.

and so many more things that I’m sure I missed.

 

So the story so far, as I have alluded to already is that I collected the vehicle on my birthday at the end of July and after a couple of hours tuition around the test circuit at Exeter, we were ready for the journey back to Bristol on the M5. I realised that this may be a step too, far too quickly so the job of driving home was left to my good wife.

 

I know that this vehicle is all about providing me with increased independence but I have to say after 15 years of travelling in a vehicle where I sit behind the driver then the novelty of being in the passenger position next to Stef was overwhelming in itself and it was a very emotional journey for both of us.

 

So just three weeks has surpassed and after initial visits to local industrial estates and supermarket car parks with huge trepidation, things have definitely progressed. Numerous people have asked me if it has been daunting or scary getting back behind the wheel (considering what happened the last time!), but I have to say that familiarising myself to drive from my wheelchair with hand controls has taken so much concentration that I honestly haven’t had time to think about the past and I have taken on the new challenge with much zest and positivity.

 

Driving on the road has now begun and I’m pleased to report that after initial short journeys from Yate back to home I have made fantastic progress.  It was amazing to be able to take my wife out to lunch and at the moment I am finding myself the designated driver and complete teetotaller!!

 

In the last week I have conquered the M32, Bristol City Centre, Clifton and the Downs, as well as driving to Congresbury and back on Tuesday of this week, a 2 ½ hour drive in total. Last Sunday I took my first solo journey which felt incredibly strange as I drove back from Filton to home, a journey of about 6 miles and yesterday the M4 on my own!!

 

As you can see the progress has been incredibly pleasing and I am relishing this new independence as well as exploring further afield.  This vehicle has provided me with a totally new lease of life and independence that has been unattainable for the last 15 years.

 

I really cannot thank everyone enough and the whole thing has been completely overwhelming and incredibly humbling when there are so many other worthy causes out there, which no doubt a lot of you support, so to reach the target of £75,000 under the economic climate is also once again overwhelming.

 

I thank each and everyone of you who helped or contributed in any way to making this dream become a very distinct reality.

 

You should all be very proud of yourselves so my love and best wishes to you all.

 

Mike

 

PS. I’m off to carry on with my chauffeuring and taxi service (of which there is a lot of payback due) as I’m of to pickmy brother up from the station!  Something I’ve not been able to do since 1996 and is absolutely fantastic – so you can understand what I mean when I say it’s  about the little things.

Written on 18th August 2011

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