I’ve learnt over the years that ‘independence’ can mean different things to different people.
For my late father, it was being able to walk to the shop for his morning newspaper even as dementia ravaged his brain.
For my brother, it was moving away to University for the first time. And for me and mine, it means the stunningly beautiful, brand new cherry red Ford Tourneo Independence van that now sits outside our house.
Independence by name, independence by nature.
‘Cheery’ as she is nicknamed (yes, the van is definitely a ‘she’), in a silly nod to the character of Cheery the Dwarf from Terry Pratchets Discworld series, is to us a thing of beauty.
She is, firstly, enormous. She can seat five adults, one wheelchair, one assistance dog and a LOT of equipment.
She is a dream to drive but for us her true greatness comes in what she brings to our son.
Sam’s disabilities mean that he is safest travelling IN his wheelchair – the adaptations made to Cheery mean that Sam can do so safely.
The vast space within the van allows us to take his mobile hoist with us when we travel; in short, having this vehicle opens up our world as a family, and for Sam gives him a level of independence that he simply wouldn’t have otherwise.
Cheery is a Motability van and will be ours for the next 5 years, after which time she will be returned to the charity and we will be able to choose a new vehicle to suit Sam’s changing needs.
For many families, buying a nearly new wheelchair-adapted vehicle is a better option; wheelchair adapted vans, even when obtained through the Motability charity, are expensive.
For us however, going through the charity was the best option.
There is also the option to lease a nearly-new vehicle, giving even more families the opportunity to regain their freedom.
There simply aren’t enough words to say how precious that freedom actually is.