If the truth be known Allen, TAD Volunteer for seven years, nearly missed witnessing the first time his simple and clever creation was in action. “I was getting the camera ready to capture the big moment and before I could get it focussed Suzanne was already sitting in the passenger seat,” he says.
The transportable steps that Allen had put together with Chris Scott and Fred May at the TAD Manning Great Lakes Group had worked far more efficiently than they could have hoped.
The design comprised two sets of small steps that clip together to allow Suzanne’s husband, John, to quickly and easily put them into place.
The set of steps, using aluminium plates and square tube posts recycled from a gazebo, “was a simple job that worked straight away without a hitch,” says Allen.
For Suzanne and John it has made such a difference to their quality of life. Suzanne has had primary upper motor neurone disorder for about 15 years. In that time her muscles have become gradually weaker, walking is harder and even speaking is becoming a challenge.
Before they had the steps, Suzanne and John dreaded any car journey.
“I had to help Sue to the car, get her to grab a handle on the door frame, jockey her into position and then give her a heave-ho into the passenger seat,” John says.
Now, thanks to the local TAD Volunteers’ custom designed steps, the physical toll on both Suzanne and John is considerably reduced, journeys are less of a challenge and they aren’t so confined to their farm.
The Gills considered buying a second car, closer to the ground but that was financially out of the question and they needed the Wagon to work their farm.
Another option they considered was having a hoist installed but that was also expensive, cumbersome and as John says, “quite frankly not a patch on Allen’s steps.”
For Allen, a fitter and machinist by trade with drafting and design skills, it is the type of job that keeps him coming back to volunteer at TAD who have been more than happy to put his talents to good use. The specialised one-off projects that Allen prefers have made a significant difference to TAD clients in the Manning Great Lakes region.
Allen says “For the volunteers it is a joy to lend a hand. The little bit we do doesn’t seem that much to us but it makes a world of difference to the people we help.”