Tom Fletcher and Samantha Renke, presented the awards for the #DreamWheelchair competition on Wednesday 7th August 2019. The competition, which was launched in partnership with Whizz-kidz and made possible by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, asked wheelchair users aged up to 25, to draw or write about their dream wheelchair.

Launched back in April this year, the competition was promoted to over 27,000 schools and open to all young wheelchair users in the UK. Entries were judged in three different age categories (12 and under, 13 to 17 and 18 to 25) and the winners were chosen by a panel of wheelchair users, led by the actress and campaigner Samantha Renke

First prize went to Hannah Bishop, a 23-year-old wheelchair user from Horsham, West Sussex. Hannah’s design featured stair climbing and ‘hover’ capabilities, which were inspired by her frustrations of trying to access places like her friend’s houses or going to the beach in a wheelchair.

Speaking at the awards reception, Hannah said: “I have been to Littlehampton, Worthing and Brighton and it is still very difficult to get to the seafront. This made me think about how a wheelchair could be improved. My design would allow me to go to the beach and to use stairs. This competition has inspired me and other young people. I believe that disabled people can achieve anything they want and should never give up trying! Planners can make things a lot easier for us, but all of the technology I imagined in my design may really be possible in ten or twenty years.”

Tom said: “The entries came from far and wide and each and every one showed that young disabled people want far more than just a set of wheels to move around in. Some designs were wild and wacky, others were inspired and innovative but all of them showed so much imagination and creativity. Hannah should be really proud for winning such a close-run competition.”

Presenting the awards alongside Tom, actress and campaigner Samantha Renke said: “The standard of entries was high and showed that every young person wants their wheelchair to be unique and different. There shouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to mobility.

Hannah’s design stood out because of the innovative ways she wanted her wheelchair to help her navigate an inaccessible world. We hope this competition will give food for thought not just about what a wheelchair can be, but also how wider society needs to be more accessible and inclusive.”

As part of her prize Hannah receives a 3D printed model of her design created by engineering firm Frazer-Nash Consultancy.

Two runners up, Isabelle Jones, 9, and Joseph Moran, 14, from Bath, also receive photo rendered images of their designs.

The competition is part of Wheels of Change, a £1m project funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery through its Dream Fund initiative.


NOTES FOR EDITORS

What is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy?

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common fatal genetic disease diagnosed in childhood. Children born with DMD cannot produce the protein dystrophin which is vital for muscle strength and function. Muscle weakness starts in early childhood. Many use a wheelchair by around the age of 12. As deterioration continues it leads to paralysis and early death, often in their 20s. It almost exclusively affects boys. There is no treatment or cure. In the UK there are around 2,500 boys affected and around 300, 000 worldwide. It is classified as a rare disease.

Who are Duchenne UK?

Duchenne UK is a lean, ambitious and highly focused charity with a clear vision: to fund and accelerate treatments and a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

We are investing millions of pounds in research right now to bring treatments and a cure to help this generation. Duchenne UK is the largest funder of DMD research in the UK. We are also committed to accelerating the pace of research. 90p in every £1 raised is committed to research.

Our president is HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. Our patrons include the broadcasters Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Mary Nightingale, and the sports stars Owen Farrell, Kris Radlinski and Andy Farrell. 

We need your help, because we need to keep funding promising new research.

How to donate?

Duchenne UK is entirely reliant on donations to fund research for treatments and a cure to DMD. This can be done via:

  • Direct Debit – Duchenne Direct
  • Individual Donation – Donate
  • If you are a family or friend affected by DMD you can set up your own fund with Duchenne UK – Family and Friend Funds
  • Take part in one of our fundraising events – Events
  • Text DUCHENNE to 70085 to donate £5. This costs £5 plus a std rate msg.

For more information and interview requests:

Visit www.duchenneuk.org

Molly Hunt – Head of Communications, Duchenne UK E: [email protected]