I write blogs for several reasons. I don’t want to bang on about being disabled and saying, ‘look what I can do!’ Firstly, I don’t mean to big up my …
A Little Bit about Me
In 1993 I was a back seat passenger in a car when, unfortunately, the driver lost the road and crashed. I don’t recall the accident. I woke up from a coma a month later in The National Spinal Injuries Centre in Stoke Mandeville. I was 17, paralysed, and wheelchair-dependent. It felt like my life had to start again, learning how to look after myself, and basically live!
About Me…Why Freedom Wheelchair Skills?
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I receive referrals for wheelchair skills training and peer support from Solicitors, Physios, Case Managers and Occupational Therapists. Occasionally, I get the chance to attend a company training day and …
Casting when Magnet Fishing Yes, you can Magnet Fish sitting in a wheelchair! As a father who wants to spend time with my family, trying to give my son a …
What People are Saying
The training was in a friendly, supportive environment. I felt much more confident after learning new skills like balancing, negotiating kerbs and doors, and the correct pushing technique.Nedah Darabi
As an Occupational therapist student, I was fortunate enough to see Stuart supporting a patient with learning the basics with a new wheelchair user. His down to earth, patient and interactive way of teaching people is a real asset and really put the user at ease. It’s a brilliant service and learning by an experienced wheelchair user can really provide that peer support needed. I would thoroughly recommend StuartHelen BoltonOccupational Therapy Student
Meeting Stuart and going to a freedom wheelchair skills session was one of the most helpful things I have done since becoming a wheelchair user. As a 19-year-old, my independence is essential to me. Just over a year into life as a wheelchair user, I noticed that I was missing out on so much due to not feeling confident about my wheelchair skills.
During my session, I learned many useful things, from optimising my pushing and carrying a cup to getting up and down a curb. Before my session, I was nervous about leaving home to go to university, but now that I know, I can do more skills. I feel confident that if I come across grass, cobblestones or if there are no dropped curbs will be ok.
Not all the skills came easily to me. But I found the session helped me build the basics and knowledge of the skills and confidence to continue practising at home. Overall, Freedom Wheelchair Skills has enabled me to go to new places as I’m no longer worried about a little curb or strange terrain and has given me more confidence as a wheelchair user.HSStudent
I met Stuart where he booked a community centre to carry out the wheelchair skills training. We spoke several times on the phone prior to meeting and Stuart kept me up to date on the booking throughout, also carrying out an assessment on the phone, identifying the targets I wanted to achieve. I attended the training with my support worker (Hayley) and I was concerned that she may end up sitting around watching all day, but this was not the case. Stuart fully involved Hayley in the training which was really good as she can now support me in developing my skills. Stuart is an excellent trainer, being friendly, supportive and extremely knowledgeable around how to teach new skills. What was particularly good was Stuart's understanding of how learning new skills can be difficult and tiring, so ensured lots of variety and if something was proving difficult I'd try 3 or 4 times and then rather than having to keep trying and there being a risk of becoming despondent, he would get me to try something different, then come back to the skill that was particularly difficult later. The venue is excellent for learning new skills, having different doors and plinths, steps, a great hall, gravel outside, slopes, cobbles, grass, gates etc - it's absolutely perfect. Stuart taught me loads of new skills and techniques and I am considerably more confident in my chair, having now gone round the shops on my own, something I would never have done before. The skills he taught have also reduced the tiredness I would feel and specific techniques have totally stopped the neck and shoulder pains I was getting. I think the whole package - Stuart, venue, knowledge, skills and personality make this training exceptional and I would recommend any person needing to use a wheelchair either permanently or when required attend this training, it far exceeded my expectations and is affordable. I would happily have paid double the money as it's helped me so much.I W
Stuart tailored the session to the stage of my ability and set me realistic achievable goals. I feel confident to practise the skills I have learnt with him. The session felt relaxed and easy going, however, Stuart kept it on track ensuring all skills were covered. Stuart is a friendly and approachable person who is always safety conscious.Alison Clough
WOW. Had a one on one training day with Stuart. At first was not exactly sure how much this would benefit me. I must say this is one of the best choice's i made to do this. Started off doing basic wheelchair skills and Stuart corrected me on the smallest things i was doing wrong which straight away improved my technique. From doing basic skills to more advanced just got better and better. By the end of the session i was going up and down kerbs and also came down some steps backwards in my chair.
I would highly recommend anyone to go to Stuart and have some lessons. You will benefit from his expertise. Once you have done it i can guarantee you will feel more confident in your chair and feel you can go anywhere feeling confident of not getting stuck anywhere.
Stuart puts you at ease right from the start and is a very friendly guy. Thanks Stuart.DS
As some of you may know, my husband Dave Samuels is pretty much fully reliant on his wheelchair now and because of this we found going to new places very stressful.
The world in our eyes started to become a very small place.
Dave has been looking for some kind of help to improve his wheelchair skills. We came across Stuart from Freedom skills. We had a 3 hour one to one session with him yesterday, starting from the basics of gliding in his chair, to up and down curbs to finishing even going down the stairs backwards!!!!!
I felt so overwhelmed and emotional watching my husband yesterday, he’s not perfect at it yet but picked it up so fast. For the 1st time in a long time I felt he could have some independents back and for me I can now walk beside him rather than behind him pushing him up kerbs etc.
If you know of any chair users that might benefit I recommend Stuart at freedom skills massively, not only is he super patient and a great teacher he is also really fun and a really nice guy xxPartner of DS
Skill wises - I’m doing pretty good. Mastered the kerbs - on even grounds. As the grass - lifting the front caster has really helped a lot especially when it comes to watching the nephews weekly when he’s playing football, but only on dry grass. Good pushing technique on the rims has saved me so much energy.
I’m off to start the wheelchair races next month - pretty excited. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.Katie-Louise
Stuart came to see one of our residents for an outdoor wheelchair driving lesson. He devised a comprehensive learning plan, carried out an excellent training session and gave good feedback. His follow-up phone call a month later was also welcomed. I now feel far more confident in supporting our resident to practise his skills in the local area.Jo WhiteheadPhysiotherapist. Royal Star & Garter Homes
I have been getting on really well since the training with Freedom Wheelchair Skills. I have not fallen out, balancing better, so well in fact my rear wheels have been brought forward. I have been getting out more and cobbles don't deter me. I feel a lot more confident.Fuchsia Carter
Since the NHS no longer provides any wheelchair training and being entirely new to using such a thing, I booked a session with Stuart Wheeler. He gave me a lot more confidence in using it and I have since managed a trip to the shops with it, under my own steam, as well as a trip to a local park.
Most people you see in a wheelchair are being pushed by someone else, but I am keen to be able to propel myself. Stuart showed me how to get the wheelchair over obstacles, such as a hose pipe, thresholds and kerbs. I made more progress in the session than I would have thought possible, particularly in being able to get the front castors off the ground, which is essential for getting over obstacles
Stuart gave me a useful pack of information at the end, including reminder sheets and useful contacts.
Stuart's ability to get around in an ordinary saloon, with hand controls, stowing his wheelchair on and around the passenger seat in bits, was impressive. His chair was lighter and stronger than mine, rigid rather than folding.JB
The venue was perfect and with so much variety and good realistic situations to practice the skills. The training was very worth while, useful and good fun. I learnt Essential Skills that I feel confident to now practice and master!Suzanne Edwards
I approached Stuart at Freedom Wheelchair Skills for help with a number of children I have recently started to work with. They had all sustained spinal cord injuries in the last couple of years. We needed some guidance to build their confidence in their wheelchairs in the community.
Stuart put the children all at ease, took them back to basics and progressed them through their varying levels of skills in a lighthearted manner. It was a great day and I look forwards to arranging another. Stuart was extremely knowledgeable and approachable, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him to anyone looking to improve their wheelchair skills.Zoe PayeOT Healthcare Ltd
I use crutches every day but there is only so far I can get on them before I get too tired and the pain in my foot, ankle and leg becomes unbearable. Realising I needed a wheelchair to help me get about more was a bitter sweet. On one hand it allows me to get out more, access more and do more with my daughter. On the other hand I was terrified and felt pretty down about using one when I first got it.
My first experience trying to use my wheelchair was shocking! I didn't get any advice, or lessons, or even tips from wheelchair services, so my first attempt at using it was a dismal failure. I needed help! Pavements are not flat or smooth, curbs are like mountains when you're in a wheelchair, and although my hands and arms were used to crutches they were not prepared for pushing myself in the chair. But I was determined to be able to push myself for my own independence and exercise.
I asked Stuart to help. We had several sessions out in my wheelchair down my local park and the surrounding area, before working up to a trip out around town. Stuart showed me techniques and invaluable tips; even how to push correctly! Vitally important things that I was not shown by wheelchair services. Stuart showed me how to turn corners properly, how to push in a straight line (sounds silly, but no pavement is flat or straight), how to get up and down kerbs (without falling out!), tips for getting up steeper inclines, how to build up my strength and stamina. Most importantly Stuart helped me with my confidence when in my wheelchair, that there is way more I can do in my chair than not, that I can still live life and do all the things I want to do, regardless of being on my crutches or in my wheelchair.
Stuart's attitude to life is truly inspirational and I am so grateful for all his help!Kate
I have brittle bone disease, so learning wheelchair skills was something I was nervous about because my body can't take a fall. Stuart put me at ease and reinforced my belief that it's safer to have the skills than not have them. Stuart was a great help and I always felt safe. I'm much more confident in my chair now, and have a better feel of how my chair will react.NL