When Carol Gilson’s husband died of cancer eight years ago, she decided that his mobility scooter should be a lasting legacy to his memory.
She advertised it for free in her local newspaper to whoever wrote to her with the best story saying why they needed a mobility scooter. In the end the 72-year-old opted for a young mum who wanted the scooter to take her children to school rather than her husband having to take time off work to do the school run.
Carol also received letters from 38 other worthy causes which she was determined to find a mobility scooter for too. It led to the launch of the Joe Gilson Mobility Scheme, which Carol named in memory of her belated husband who died of cancer in 2008.
Since then Carol has found mobility scooters for 156 people, and has also expanded into other mobility aids. She has given away 72 electric wheelchairs; 59 manual wheelchairs 26, 80 walking sticks, two stair lifts, 22 ramps, and 28 adjustable stools for bathrooms
Carol explains: “It has just snowballed. After putting Joe’s scooter in the paper I realised there was a need out there. I had time on my hands and as my husband was an absolute dream of a husband I thought it was important to keep his name alive, and show I was proud to be his wife. I give a scooter away nearly every week and always have my picture taken when we hand it over to the person so that people know where their donation went. People are so grateful because they can’t afford to buy them for whatever reason. It’s not just the elderly it helps, but also the terminally ill and young people.”
The scheme has literally helped transform many peoples’ life by giving them back their mobility again, such as Terry Jankowski, from Honiton, who had been housebound for 21 years until being given a mobility scooter through the scheme. The mother-of-one, who has suffered from chronic ill health for many years, said: “I live opposite a bowling green with a huge great field and river going through it They very first time I went out I went across there. It almost felt like I was walking. It just felt so weird after going so long without going out. To be able to get out and about independently on my own has just been fantastic. Suddenly it’s like having your legs back again.”