A wheelchair-user from Maple Cross took on the challenge of hand-cycling around Rickmansworth Aquadrome to raise more than £2,600 to buy a new beach buggy for public use.
Gary Smith, 42, suffers from a rare genetic condition called autosomal recessive spastic ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay, which affects his muscle movement, balance and coordination. He also has a learning difficulty.
Unable to walk and reliant on a wheelchair, sandy terrains like the beach are by and large off-limits to Gary.
When his parents tracked down a beach at West Wittering that could provide beach buggies to visitors with physical disabilities, Gary was able to sit by the shore for the first time in 20 years. It was this experience that inspired the life-long resident of Maple Cross to fundraise for a second beach wheelchair at West Wittering.
Unable to cycle in the traditional way, Gary decided to hand-cycle around Rickmansworth Aquadrome for as long as he could manage. In the end, he covered a total of 6.56 miles.
Gary’s mother Libby said: “The lads who came to support him all had a go on the hand-cycle after Gary was done. They were all shocked by how heavy it is and how strong Gary had to be to cycle so far on his arms.”
Gary raised a whopping £2,620 for the beach buggy he plans to donate to West Wittering Beach.
He said: “There’s not much money as there should be for people in wheelchairs. It’s not only people with disabilities, but also elderly people who are affected.
“I’m really proud of myself.”