A WESTMORLAND Gazette campaign to help disabled former fell runner Will Clark regain the freedom of his beloved Lakeland fells is being met with an amazing response from readers.

The Wheels for Will Appeal aims to raise £25,000 to buy a specially-adapted rough terrain quad bike which Will, from Grasmere, can operate with an amazing hi-tech helmet, using chin movements.

And within days of its launch last Thursday, dozens of Gazette readers, moved by Will’s story, donated more than £3,250 – about 13 per cent of the appeal target.

The donations keep coming in, with amounts ranging from £5 to £500 arriving at the Gazette’s Wainwright’s Yard offices, in Kendal.

The 27-year-old’s life changed in a ‘split second’ when he was left paralysed from the neck down by a cycling accident while on a charity ride near Thirlmere in July. Since then, the keen outdoor sportsman has had to come to terms with the stark reality that, as a tetraplegic, he will never again be able to run on the Lakeland fells.

But thanks to modern tech-nology, Will’s disability does not mean he cannot regain some of the freedom he once enjoyed.

The Wheels for Will Appeal 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.

He is currently a patient in the Golden Jubilee Regional Spinal Cord Unit, in Middlesbrough.

Meanwhile, Will’s moving story, and the Gazette appeal, have been highlighted in the Houses of Parliament.

Westmorland Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has taken The Westmorland Gazette’s ‘Wheels for Will’ campaign to Westminster by tabling an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling for support and donations to the appeal.

Mr Farron said: “To suffer such a horrific accident at such a young age is incredibly tragic for anyone, but for Will, who loved to make the most of the Lakes around him, it is even more so.

“For many this would left them in a state of desperation, but we can ensure that this does not happen to Will by helping to raise the money for this fantastic piece of technology that will give him back some of the freedom he once knew.

“Sometimes a very small gesture can make an incredible difference in someone’s life - this is one of those occasions.

“That is why I am personally donating to the appeal, as well as taking it to Parliament to ensure that as many people as possible get involved and give money to get Will back out on the fells once again.”

The Woodstar

  • It’s an off-road quad based on the Swedish WoodStar design and built to accommodate Will’s disability.
  • Will can operate it with his chin using a specially designed electronic helmet.
  • Adapted WoodStars are built in Hull by Cyclone Technologies.
  • The vehicle would be built from an existing WoodStar chassis with seating, suspension, engine and controls added to suit Will’s needs.
  • The £25,000 appeal target covers the machine cost of £18,000, plus £4,000 for the chin control system and £3,000 for a box trailer to transport the quad.

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.