Like many older people, Colin Matthews had been finding it difficult to accept that his mobility was declining.
The 76-year-old had been active all his life, but a combination of diabetes and poor circulation in his legs had gradually made walking any distance a real challenge.
A proud man, Colin largely kept quiet about his struggles and was uncomfortable with the idea of using a wheelchair.
But his lack of mobility meant he’d had to give up on going to air shows – a lifelong hobby he’d pursued since the 1950s.
Colin’s two sons had inherited his love of the flying machines, but they missed having their old dad with them on days out. And then at one show, they noticed that quite a few people were in wheelchairs.
As it happened, the brothers already knew the British Red Cross loaned out wheelchairs (their mother had previously borrowed one).
They also knew the world’s largest military air show, the Royal International Air Tattoo, would soon be taking place nearby.
Grasping the nettle, they spoke to Colin and finally persuaded him to try out a wheelchair.
On the big day, they picked up a chair at their local mobility aids centre in Harlow and headed for the show.
Colin’s son, Cliff, recalled: “It was a cracking day. We just joked about the chair and had a laugh about it, and Dad was more than happy. Soon he was saying: ‘I could get used to this’.”
“My father hadn’t been to an air show in three years, so it was brilliant – and we had a lot more freedom. Now we know he can use a wheelchair, we can go anywhere.”
Cliff added: “It was a nice surprise to find that Red Cross wheelchair loans are for everyone, as opposed to having to prove you’re disabled or a blue badge holder.
“And the mobility aids volunteer was as good as gold – really helpful and friendly.”
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