The Derbyshire branch of a national charity which recruits retired engineers to invent bespoke aids for people with disabilities says it will be able to help more clients after it was handed hundreds of pounds by a Hazelwood company.
The Derby, Burton and District panel of the charity Remap has been given £500 by specialty chemical company Lubrizol, which it says will pay for the creation of 15 new products over the next 12 months.
The branch, which carries out around 150 jobs in a year, is the second-most active panel in the whole of Remap, which was set up more than 50 years ago to put volunteers’ skills to good use by making equipment that helps disabled people live more independent lives.
Among those benefitting from its work is 61-year-old Richard Shaw from Oakwood, in Derby, who has muscular atrophy and as a result has extremely limited movement, which is restricted to his fingers.
Until recently his deteriorating movement meant that he could no longer operate his electric wheelchair’s original movement controls, but even though he bought a new finger-tip operated micro-controller joystick from the internet to compensate, he had no way of fixing it to the wheelchair and operating it himself.
Step forward Remap volunteer Mike Banks, from Mercaston, near Ashbourne, who had already adapted the foot-rest and head-rest on Richard’s electric wheelchair, and this time designed and manufactured a multiply adjustable wrist support and bracket which enabled Richard to use his new joystick with ease.
Richard said: “It is an extremely long and expensive business to get modifications made, so in that sense Mike and Remap have saved me months of waiting and thousands of pounds.
“However it’s far more than that. Having a quality of life is so important and if you’re confined to your home, life gets tedious and monotonous, so Mike’s talents and generosity have been an absolute God-send.”
Mike, who worked at Rolls-Royce for 33 years, during which time he was a company senior staff engineer, started working for Remap when he retired. He has made around 130 devices, including an innovative page-turning device for the Ronnie Mackeith Child Development Centre at the Derby Royal Hospital, which helped children with their reading.
The invention was so successful that it was put into production on behalf of the NHS and was used all over the country.
Mike said: “I love being given a difficult problem that somebody hasn’t been able to solve and finding a way to overcome it and have got a tremendous amount of pleasure and reward knowing that my work has helped somebody like Richard to get his independence back.
“We’re very grateful to Lubrizol. Our charity doesn’t have a high profile and our panel gets no funding from the central office, so any donation we receive is vital. This money will definitely help us to make a difference to more people’s lives.”
Lubrizol has made a donation to Remap in the past but, although it has chosen Derbyshire Mind as its chosen charity for two years, it agreed to fund Remap again so that it can carry on its life-changing work.
Jane Spencer, secretary of Lubrizol’s Charities and Community Committee, said: “As a company our mission statement includes improving lives and delivering efficiency, reliability and wellness to our customers’ end users and this commitment extends to our community support programme as well.
“Mike and Remap have given Richard his independence back. It’s an incredible gift to give anyone and we know how Remap makes a difference to so many other people’s lives as well, which is why we are very proud to support them once again.”
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