I’ve ‘never felt more disabled’ – rebuilding her shattered confidence, walkers aim to buy Esther a new wheelchair

On Saturday (August 1st) a small group of friends will be walking the 15 miles from Eastbourne Pier to Hastings Pier to raise money to buy a new wheelchair for their disabled friend Esther Fox.

Esther once said of her wheelchair: “When we are sitting we are all the same, when we move some use feet, some use wheels.”

Unfortunately those wheels are failing her. In the last year due to problems with her current wheelchair Esther has been unable to access places she has previously enjoyed and her independence has been severely restricted.

Esther has suffered all her life from a muscle wasting condition but her life has been recently affected by a malfunctioning wheelchair that can be dangerous.

Sadly, for about a year now, Esther’s confidence has been shattered. She was given this chair by the NHS and it has never worked properly. The NHS have said they can take it away to get it looked at but they can’t leave her with a replacement! Esther works full time and this would make her working life impossible.

Esther and her dog Moses with sponsored walk organiser Ewa Patmore

A new chair is around £14,000 and, if there is any money left over after fundraising, all will be donated to ‘Designability’. This is a fantastic organisation that among other things has designed, produced and loans the amazing Wizzybug, a wheelchair specifically for under fives.

Esther was born and has lived in Hastings all her life and is quite well-known in Hastings as an artist. Some of her most recent work was displayed at the Science Museum. She has worked with the Towner Art Gallery and Hastings Contemporary, where she is on the board of trustees. 

Esther explains:  “I have been a wheelchair user all my life due to a muscle wasting condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I use the term ‘user’ because I see my chair as a tool that I use to enable me to fully participate in life. I am not ‘bound’ or ‘confined’ to a chair, because it should be there to ensure I can be as independent as possible.

“I work full time creating and delivering projects that I hope make a difference to other disabled people’s lives, as I believe everyone should have access to culture and heritage. Therefore my independence is also extremely important for me to be able to keep working.

“However in the last year I have never felt more ‘disabled’ because of my current electric wheelchair. It is a new one allocated via the NHS, and exchanged for my old one, but numerous control glitches have been evident since the start. These include two incidents where it has overridden my inputs and driven me off the side of a ramp. The consequences could have been disastrous but thankfully, on these occasions, I was caught by my husband and a friend.

“Despite repeated efforts, engineers have been unable to rectify the issues and frustratingly my old wheelchair is gone for good. This has greatly restricted my independence and damaged my confidence. My friends and family have seen the huge impact this is having on my life and convinced me we should fundraise for a new chair which can give me my independence back.  

“We have found a chair that will enable me to do all these things and I am very grateful to anyone who is kind enough to donate to this cause”.

For more information or to donate please visit: www.gofundme.com/f/e9w5h-for-fox-sake

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