Philip is 73 and from Barton le Clay, Bedfordshire. As president of the Ampthill & District Rotary Club he was delighted to announce that WheelPower was going to be his chosen charity of the year for 2022/23. As part of their continued support Philip set himself a very special walking challenge called the Canal Canter! We are so thankful for the support of the Rotarians and we hope you enjoy reading the full story below:

The Ampthill & District Rotary Club

Team photo at the Ampthill District Rotary

“I joined the club in 1992 and celebrated my 30th anniversary recently. I was self employed at the time, running a petrol station in Ampthill and very much involved in the community. I was approached by one of the members, went to a meeting, signed up and the rest is history as we say! I’ve been heavily involved since and am 1 of approximately 20 members. Many of us wear multiple hats for the club and although I am still one of the youngest members it’s safe to say that the age profile of the organisation has changed.”

“Locally we have worked with many charities such as Kids Out to take disadvantaged children to Whipsnade Zoo. We are currently working with other clubs to support the Ukrainian appeal and also support local charity Jigsaw club with regular coffee mornings.”

Charity of the year

“Our connection to WheelPower came about due to my wife beings best friends with Martin McElhatton’s sister! My wife chose WheelPower as her charity of the year during her presidency and in my second term I was delighted to carry on this wonderful support. We have a 4 way meeting with the other local clubs and I was the person in charge of sourcing a speaker to come along. I booked Martin and he was absolutely brilliant and everyone was blown away by his talk.”

“We hope to raise lots of money for WheelPower during the year. We are due to host various fundraising events with WheelPower as the main beneficiary, that will include quiz nights, coffee mornings and the return of our popular race night in January. Not only do we want to raise money but we would love to get involved in WheelPower events too, including the 2023 Tour de Vale in June. We have supported the event before as marshals and some of our club members have even ridden the event before.”

Philip during his fundraising walk

Stoke Mandeville Stadium Tour

“Recently members of our club were invited to Stoke Mandeville Stadium and were shown around by Martin. We found it very interesting to see the work done by the charity, the amazing facility and all that has been achieved. We were all really taken aback by it and we hope those who came will go back and tell other members.”

“The tour made us realise what a good charity WheelPower is and the work they are doing. We understand some of the fundraising projects need a lot of money and we are pleased to help support these in any way we can. Fundraising after Covid is very difficult, and to get people back whilst keeping people safe makes things more challenging for charities.”

“On the day it was lovely to meet fellow Rotarian Debbie Hodge and WheelPower Trustee. The district governor was also very supportive of WheelPower and keen to support the charity. The rotary is very community minded and the local knowledge of its members can be invaluable to charities wishing to reach new audiences with their message, or looking for support.”

Birmingham Canal Canter

“The Canal Canter is a 18 mile self-navigating walk around the Birmingham canal network that’s organised by the long distance walking association. It was interesting to see a city I didn’t know very well, with plenty of water stops, snacks and marshals en-route to guide me along. It was a very hot day so keeping fluids up was important but it was very well organised and a really enjoyable experience. Thank you to everyone who donated to my fundraising page and for the support of WheelPower.”

Final Words

“Our Club chose WheelPower because of the great work they are doing, both locally and across the country to support disabled people to be more active. The Paralympics has increased the profile of wheelchair sport and at events like the Commonwealth Games para events are now integrated into the programme, helping to improve the awareness of these sports and inspire others to take part.”

“We were delighted to welcome Martin to speak at our meeting and he was such an inspirational speaker. He was able to whip up enthusiasm and you can feel that his words come from his heart as a disabled person. His own personal story from his accident, to being a Paralympian and now as the Chief Executive at WheelPower is really inspiring.”

“As a club, we are very proud and privileged to be part of the WheelPower story and we hope we can help the charity both now and into the future.”

Why should you donate

"Donating to a charity like WheelPower will make a real difference. They are local to me and you can come down and see where the money is being used and see the benefits of the families from being able to use facilities that are accessible to all is fantastic. You don’t have to donate a lot, but every little bit you can give will top up my pot and make a difference. There's a lot of worthy causes out there but I do think that sport and that sense of community, giving people the opportunities to be active, whatever your level has always been important to me. To be part of a community of like-minded people and providing access to that for everybody is really important. Especially at the moment whilst there is a lot of pressure on families and cuts to a lot of facilities."

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