Changing lives: helping Rachel rediscover her island paradise
“I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was seven.” Rachel Johnson explains. “It’s the most severe form of diabetes and it’s very, very difficult to control.”
A number of complications arising from Rachel’s condition increasingly restrict her mobility.
“I notice my loss of ability to do everyday things is getting greater and greater with every passing day.”
Rachel feels her decreased mobility most acutely during her annual visits to Lundy Island with her husband. The couple have been visiting the picturesque island in the Bristol Channel for over 20 years. They even renewed their wedding vows in the small local church on their 20th visit.
“I can’t even put into words how special Lundy is for us”, she says. “It makes me sing inside”.
However, Rachel’s mobility problems have made it harder and harder for her to enjoy these special holidays with her husband. Lundy is remote and many parts of it are not served by roads. With Rachel not able to walk very far, they found they had to stay closer to the town.
Rachel couldn’t experience the island to the full, staying inside while her husband went out exploring as they both used to.
Lundy was once an escape for Rachel, allowing her some respite from a busy timetable of medical appointments and procedures. But now, much of the island’s rugged landscapes were inaccessible to her.
All that changed when Rachel discovered the tramper.
“I just couldn’t believe it”
A National Lottery funded project, Heritage Ability, have been introducing all-terrain mobility scooters known as ‘trampers’ to sites throughout South West England, allowing people with reduced mobility full access to the regions’ beautiful landscapes and parks.
The electric vehicles are specifically designed to cover rough ground, and negotiate slopes, tree-roots, mud, puddles and other tricky terrain safely. Perfect for exploring Lundy Island.
“I really thought that I would never be able to go exploring again and I was really sad.” Rachel reflects. “When I heard about the tramper, I just couldn’t believe it.”
This summer, with a little help from National Lottery players, and a crowd-funding campaign run by Rachel to raise extra money for licences, Lundy Island has its first tramper.
Now, Rachel can finally experience life to the full on Lundy Island. She and her husband can once again explore together, thanks to the tramper, and Rachel couldn’t be happier about it.
“It’s been such a long time since I’ve been able to get around the island and get back again”, she says, smiling from ear to ear.
The tramper is now on the island all year round, enabling many visitors to experience it in a way they weren’t able to before. “This is giving people the option to come and love this island as much as we do.” Rachel says.
“I’d just like to say a huge thank you to all the National Lottery players that have helped my dreams come true”