The village of Dartington took a young resident to their hearts as they watched him bounce back from the devastating impact of a potentially killer disease.
Now the village is backing Able Sharp again as he launches an ambitious fund-raiser for the next stage in his drive to gain more independent living – a £20,000 Robotic Mobility Device.
And Able’s landlords – South Devon Rural Housing Association (SDR) – are among the first to boost their disabled tenant’s GoFundMe campaign with a £1,000 donation. The fund notched up over £3,000 in the first 10 days.
The 25-year-old is a popular figure in the community and everyone was delighted when he moved into one of SDR’s new apartments at Brimhay – designed for people with learning difficulties and mobility issues to get a taste of independent living.
Now Able wants to take his independence to the next level and has launched an online campaign to raise the £20,000. And the community is backing him all the way!
The money will pay for a ‘TekRMD’ – a revolutionary mobility aid that enables people who would normally use a wheelchair to move around in the standing position, a bit like a ‘segway’ personal transporter.
Able made headlines over two decades ago when he contracted and survived meningitis as a toddler. The story of his recovery from septicaemia made national news as he was named the “Bus Stop Baby”.
Since then, his rehabilitation following brain damage and severe mobility issues caused by the condition has been well documented. He even went on to do a 15,000ft charity skydive in 2018 to support the Dame Hannah Rogers Trust.
Able, now 25, moved into his own specially designed apartment at Elmhirst Court, Brimhay, in autumn 2021, since when he has made new friends and is gaining more independence every day – but still has continuing problems posed by his inability to move around in a standing position.
The motorised standing device can change all that, giving him the option of getting around his flat and outside in an upright position. The sole supplier in the UK is Anatomical Concepts Ltd. in Scotland.
Able’s mother, Alex, said: “Able depends on various equipment and mobility aids to enable him to be active and move around. But with these he’s either stationary in a fixed standing position or needs assistance from others to push him.
“It’s essential for Able to be up on his feet. There are so many benefits associated with weight-bearing, primarily to prevent his bones from becoming brittle, keep his muscles strong and to aid function of his lungs, heart and digestion.
“The RMD enables people to move around whilst standing up, so Able can be out and about, go to the shops or to gigs, reach everything he needs and be on the same eye level as everyone else. It’s the next best thing to walking.
“Our local community has really embraced Able and given so much love and support towards the fund-raiser. The village pub, garage and local businesses have put up posters, shared Able’s info on all their social media and are planning ways to boost his campaign.
“I am so sincerely grateful that the community have put their arms around Able. As his Mum it means so much to me.
“Living in Dartington, Able will never be alone. Wherever he goes he’s always welcomed with warmth and generosity.
“When Able eventually reaches his target and is zooming around in his Tek RMD, he’ll be thrilled to do a ‘victory lap’ of the village and say a huge and heartfelt thankyou to everyone for making it possible!”.
SDR Chief Executive Christine Candlish said: “Able is a great example of the kind of person we had in mind when we built Elmhirst Court. He’s shown how much someone with learning difficulties and other issues can benefit from getting a taste of independent living, whilst remaining in the community where they have love and support.
“We’re delighted to play our part in helping Able attain his next step towards greater mobility and independence through this cutting-edge piece of kit. He’s a great ambassador for the disabled community and an example to us all in overcoming adversity and living life to the full”.
To find out more or to donate, please go to:
Or Google GoFundMe and search Fund Tek RMD Motorised Standing Device for Able
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