Help for Heroes beneficiary and Royal Marine turned Paralympian, Philip Eaglesham, this week launched his revolutionary wheelchair that brings disabled people back to a “social height”.
Philip, from Dungannon, who was at this year’s Rio Paralympic Games, invented the elevating wheelchair with support from Help for Heroes, after his frustration at his loss of independence.
Five years ago, Phil contracted Q Fever whilst on tour with the Royal Marines in Afghanistan. Although the infection has been treated, his condition continues to deteriorate.
On return from Afghanistan he customised a Segway by putting a seat on it in order to be at the same height as his wife and friends – but soon found he didn’t have the core strength to hold himself up. That led him to design Victor, the elevating wheelchair that lets users raise themselves up to eye level. “In October 2010, Helmand province, Afghanistan my life changed forever,” explained Mr Eaglesham.
“Just over a year ago I tried to take my own life. I’d just had enough of the deterioration and the impact it was having on my wife, the kids, others around me. It’s difficult to talk about it, but it’s good to talk about it.”
However, when he began working on the elevated wheelchair he found a new purpose. He said: “I was given an opportunity not only to change my life path but also the lives of possibly millions of disabled people the world over.
“With the support I’ve had, it became vital to find like-minded people who had the foresight of giving disabled people the ability to live in an able-bodied environment, rather than constantly trying to adapt or structurally change everything. “To take a disabled person back to a social height, to aid social interaction but also increase independence has been key.”
The all-terrain chair has been designed by the Medical AMRC team at The University of Sheffield and is also designed to mount kerbs and small steps and can turn on the spot.