Disabled rider supported by local community and Ireland's top trike builder

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My name is Pat Allen and I'm a Trainee observer with the Thames Vale Advanced Motorcyclists.

Back in August/Sept of 2011 I was asked by my wife if I knew of any details of Trikes for the disabled as one of her work colleagues has a son (Phillip) who has suffered two brain tumours which after having the last one removed has now left him with very limited use of his right arm and leg.

So as a small project I set about searching the internet for such a trike that a 22 year old who had never been on a motorcycle ride.

It soon became apparent that it was going to be a very expensive reality for this lad to fulfill his ambitions, however I worked very closely with Phillip to find something that could either be adapted from a donor bike or something purpose built and eventually we found a small 50cc PGO trike that would suit the job.

At this point it is worth pointing out that Phillip had gone through an assessment evaluation for disability benefit with a view of obtaining Motability funding, but in the eyes of the assessor his disability was not considered to be of qualifying status, so any training or vehicle adaption would have to be self-funded.

Not easy when you have no job, however the money was raised by family members and the trike was purchased.

D-day came when Phillip and I went out on our first little ride, to be honest it was really non-eventful other than on returning to home the “grin factor” was unbelievable.

This ride was repeated a second and third time and it was clear to me that as the trike was definitely going to need adapting - especially the throttle and front brake as Phillip was struggling to keep the throttle operation smooth and had no use of the front brake at all.

This now led onto another task of sourcing parts to be able to switch all hand controls from left to right which is not as easy as one may think. Alternatives were snowmobile trigger throttles, quad throttles and double brake levers. All at a discounted price of £750!

After contacting a number of specialists that were quoting figures in excess of £2000 to adapt the trike, things were not looking on good, and to add fuel to the situation the NADB had posted that “due to lack of funds no further grants are available”, which was going to be Phillip's best chance of funding the conversion.

During my search for information I came across a team in Ireland - Diamond Trikes - headed by Derek Winters who was a great source of information on how this could be achieved on a limited budget.

After talking with Derek I emailed photographs of the trike over to him and he said that he was willing to carry out the conversion for us and at a realistic budget that Phillip and his family could possibly achieve.

The conversion would consist of transposing throttle, front brake and starter button over to the left hand and converting the rear brake lever to a foot mounted brake lever.

It doesn't sound a lot but consider different length cables, new brackets to fabricate and fit and wiring to re-route, and Derek also found a shipping agent that was willing to collect the trike from my work place and deliver it back to me.

In return for all of his work all Derek asked was “would it be possible for to place a photograph on his website of the finished trike and Phillip”.

Phillip was very excited about the offer and said he would love to go ahead with it and would discuss obtaining the required funds with his family, which he duly did.

But what he and his family did not know was that my wife had discussed the situation with her work colleagues at IPSL in Camberley and they had decided that a small fund raising event would help assist in funding the conversion.

The event raised more than I and my wife ever expected.

I would like to say thank you from me to Derek and his team at Diamond Trikes for his generosity and expertise in the conversion and to all at IPSL in Camberley who contributed to getting Phillip out on the road and showing that there are people that are not bikers but are willing to support those that do ride or want to ride.

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Patrick Allen

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By Patrick Allen