I wanted a car that looks like a family car and not like a ‘disability car’
The Gaskin Family
Danielle Gaskin lives in the Lake District with her two sons Archie, 11 and Harrison, 7.
Harrison has West’s syndrome - a rare form of epilepsy that occurs in infants under one year of age. Harrison’s epilepsy seizures started at three months and he has never been able to crawl, walk, talk or support himself. He is totally dependent on Danielle.
For six years, Harrison travelled in a car seat that swivelled in and out of the car. Every-day journeys, like trips to the local shops, or family visits were a struggle.
Even short trips were problematic, and Archie would have to stay in the car with his brother because it was too much hassle to get Harrison out of the car seat and into his wheelchair.
When Danielle and her husband separated, she realised that she would need an easier solution to transfer Harrison in and out of the car, as she’d now have to do this on her own. So she decided to investigate the wheelchair accessible vehicles route.
Danielle wanted a nice family car and it was important to her that Archie felt comfortable with it as well. “Archie is 11 years old and kids can be so cruel. Archie has ‘street cred’ and I didn’t want him to be embarrassed. I wanted a car that looks like a family car and not like a ‘disability car’. When friends and family join us, we want to be able to travel together in the same vehicle.”
Danielle talked to a number of companies, “but no one seemed to be interested unless it was a definite sale”.
It could not have been more different with Gowrings Mobility. Amanda, my Mobility Advisor, was so helpful and supportive and I just wanted someone to sort it all out for me and tell me what I needed to do next. The whole process is very involved and confusing, so having someone who was supportive and knowledgeable was very important to me”.
Danielle continues, “Everyone at Gowrings Mobility was so helpful. The demonstration driver, Vince, came up and spent the morning with us, driving to the places we normally visit, ensuring that the Vauxhall Zafira is the right car for us. I liked the fact that he was honest and that his main priority was to ensure that Harrison’s chair was safe and that the car was suitable for us. “It was a traumatic time for us as a family. Everything that Gowrings said they would do – was done, on time. I knew that I could call Amanda anytime and she would explain everything patiently. And when the car was delivered by Vince, he went through everything with me again. He seemed genuinely pleased for us because he could see the difference that it was going to make in our lives.
Danielle says, “The Vauxhall Zafira is lovely to drive, very comfy with a lovely interior. It’s part of the family now.” Harrison and Archie love the car too. She says, “Before we had the Zafira, Harrison couldn’t see out of the window, but now he looks straight ahead and is involved in what’s going on. Archie sits right next to him. It is a big improvement from a safety point of view as Harrison travels comfortably in his own wheelchair and also when he has seizures, his brother can comfort him whilst I look for a safe place to stop”.
Danielle concludes, “There’s a lot of rain where we live and the tailgate provides excellent shelter. Harrison is already settled in his wheelchair and all we need to do is to wheel him in. No more scrambling and fiddling with the car seats straps. You don’t realise how much effort it is until you stop doing it. I just can’t believe I did it for such a long time!”