When we were kids Mum and Dad really tried to instill in us a worldly understanding (I am one of four kids). At 13, mum and dad took my brother (16) and I to South East Asia just to broaden our horizons. We travelled through Indonesia and up through Malaysia. It was an eye-opening experience and really made you think ‘home is not too bad after all’. I think that’s been a big part of my growing up – just appreciating all that I have and I think this resonates with a lot of people. So this had a lot to do with my approach to everything in life. I’m just a product of how I was raised and that’s being raised in a caring family that just really wanted the best for everyone. I’ve learnt to appreciate all I’ve been given in life, which is why I believe we should be doing anything we can to pay it forward. What makes us happy is being kind and caring and loving one another – the most valuable things in our life, are our family. My own family is something I am the proudest of in life – they’re a big part of who I am.
The whole determination thing – I think is the only one common characteristic in anyone who is successful in achieving their goals. It’s this one particular trait that led me to co-develop my own wheelchair – which came about really, out of necessity and frustration.
I literally remember thinking; I must be one of the luckiest boys in the world.
When looking for a new wheelchair it struck me that every chair I looked at seemed like it had been designed by a bunch of Engineers sitting in a room who didn’t really understand the needs of someone like myself – a wheelchair user.
One of the philosophies behind our design was that I needed to be free of any obstructons which is why the design is about being at the front of the chair with all the working mechanisms behind – I didn’t want to feel that I wasn’t encased in a machine. When interacting with people after a short time, they forget that the chair is even there. I worked on designing a wheelchair with a good friend who was an Engineer. The combination of my knowledge, of knowing exactly what I needed and exactly what works – with someone who could translate that into something that worked, made it happen. The incentive behind designing the wheelchair wasn’t about making a million bucks; it was about designing a chair that would give me complete independence. Then it was like ‘well if we are going to do this, we are going to do it properly so others can benefit from it as well’. We took the prototype I was driving to a trade show in Germany in 2007. We met lots of companies who were keen on the idea – one being a Swedish company ‘Permobil’ who are a great company with a really good culture and they do great work. I also consider them to be the Lamborghini of wheelchairs. My chair fits in with their philosophy and compliments their other products so they said ‘we like it – can we have it? Which, to me, was a dream come true.