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NHS wheelchair challenge for charity

One of the staff from NHS Community Trust in Sussex is to attempt to travel more than 100 miles in a self-propelled wheelchair in aid of a charity which helps disabled people in Sri Lanka. 

Barbara Defriez, known as ‘Babz’, will attempt to complete the eastern leg of National Cycle Network Route 2, between Brockenhurst, Hampshire, and Newhaven, East Sussex, in three or four days from 22 September. 

The wheelchair therapy technician, who works for Worthing Wheelchair Service, part of the SCFT Wheelchair Service, wants to undertake the journey to raise £2,000 for The Meththa Foundation, which creates and reconditions prosthetic limbs to help rehabilitate disabled people in Sri Lanka. 

Babz first came into contact with the charity when she was working in Brighton and they visited to collect redundant prosthetic limbs donated to them by the Trust. 

She wants to help The Meththa Foundation because she is concerned the charity may not have received its usual number of donations during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As for the transport she plans to use, she said: “I decided to do this trek in a self-propelled wheelchair to experience how the people I work with on a daily basis manage. 

“Since I started training I have a much greater appreciation for those who have no choice but to use a wheelchair to get around on a daily basis.” 

Babz undertook her first long training exercise on 28 July when she completed the 6.2-mile round trip from Saltdean to Brighton Marina at an average speed of a mile every 25 minutes. 

“Need to work on the speed a little,” she joked. 

Days later, on 2 August, Babz completed the round trip from Newhaven to Seaford Splash point. 

“I learnt, ‘Don’t believe what Google Maps tell you or people who say that certain routes are wheelchair-friendly!’” she said. 

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