A PARALYSED Cumbrian is backing the The Westmorland Gazette’s Wheels for Will campaign to help a former Grasmere fell runner regain the freedom of his beloved Lakeland hills.
Cameron Wood, from Bassenthwaite, owns a WoodStar ATC (all-terrain cart) similar to the one our appeal is aiming to buy for Will Clark.
The 27-year-old’s life changed in a ‘split second’ when he was paralysed from the neck down in a cycling accident while on a charity ride in July.
Mr Wood, who was also left tetraplegic after a mountain biking accident, said he believed such an off-road quad would be ‘a great boost’ for Will.
“Since the delivery of my ATC five years ago, my life has been positively dif-ferent,” said Mr Wood. “I never thought that after suffering such a high level spinal cord injury, eight years ago, that I could be climbing mountains and questing through fields and forests, feeling able bodied again.”
Mr Wood’s quad uses a head-steer design that works through electro-hydraulics, which therefore requires very little neck muscle to work it.
“Simply turning your head will steer the front wheels but because the connection is made through a flexi-drive you can still go fast over very rough terrain,” he said.
“A tube is placed by your mouth for acceleration. A slight suck will make it go and if you maintain the pressure in the tube it will keep going. A gentle blow will make it brake.”
Spinal injuries experts have already said Will would benefit psychologically from using such a quad, but Mr Wood says it also provides physical benefits.
“I've put a lot of neck muscle on and my upper half is a lot stronger which helps with my breathing,” he said. “I really think my ATC is priceless. Getting back out to such inaccessible areas, where I use to go on my mountain bike is quite uplifting.”
He added: “Even just getting away from everyone and being on my own for a while makes a huge change.”
Donations for Gazette campaign just keep pouring in
The Wheels for Will appeal is continuing to be met with an amazing response from readers.
Just two weeks after its launch, more than £7,500 has been raised towards the £25,000 cost of the all-terrain quad which would allow Will to once again roam freely on the Lake District fells.
And the donations include £250 from the Cumbria Group of the Trail Riders’ Fellow-ship, which has also offered to help Will regain the freedom of the fells.
Group secretary Roger Harris said: “The TRF in Cumbria have the most comprehensive knowledge of any organisation on vehicular user rights and as such would like to offer their services to Will come the time when he is able to take to the fells again.”
The Wheels for Will Campaign is running alongside the Will Clark Fund, set up by the people of Grasmere to help support Will and enable him to live in the community where he grew up.
Will, who loved to run, swim, cycle and ski, was on a charity cycle ride at Thirlmere when a small twig caught in his front wheel and he was thrown from his bike.
He is now in the Golden Jubilee Regional Spinal Cord Unit in Middlesbrough, where he is undergoing specialist treatment and last week was able to use a demonstration exercise bike.
His mother Angela Clark said: “It was amazing. They placed electrodes on Will’s legs and the electric impulses stimulated the muscles to drive the bike. Will cycled 9.4 miles in one hour!”
How you can help
- Send your donation (cheques only) made payable to The Will Clark Fund, along with your name, address, contact telephone number and email address to: Wheels for Will, c/o Allan Tunningley, The Westmorland Gazette, 1 Wainwright’s Yard, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 4DP. Cheques should be marked on the back ‘Wheels for Will’.
- Alternatively, you can donate via online banking or at a bank branch to the following account: Santander, P O Box 383, 21 Prescot Street, London, E1 8RP. Sort code: 09-01-28; Account number: 34788191; Account Name: The Will Clark Fund; Quote as reference: Wheels for Will.