A campaigning disabled people’s organisation is hoping its bid to recreate an historic journey across the Alps on a petrol-driven tricycle will highlight to a government minister the importance of providing mobility support to disabled people.
Disabled Motoring UK (DM UK) – the charity formerly known as Mobilise – is retracing the epic, 1,500 mile journey of O A “Denny” Denly in 1947, in which he drove his petrol-driven Argson tricycle from London to Switzerland, across the Alps to Geneva, and back to London.
Denly, who died last year, was co-founder of the Invalid Tricycle Association (ITA), which later became the Disabled Drivers’ Association, and then merged with another charity in 2005 to become Mobilise.
Denly’s journey – which included a climb of almost 8,000 feet – is being retraced as closely as possible using his original 1932 trike, which has been restored by a member of the Royal Light Dragoons, based near the charity’s Norfolk headquarters, who has joined the team as travelling mechanic for the Alps Challenge.
On the team’s return to London, the charity will hand a letter to Maria Miller, the minister for disabled people, highlighting the importance of independent mobility.
Helen Dolphin, director of policy and campaigns for DM UK, said the letter would stress the impact of rising fuel prices on disabled people, with many unable to afford to drive the vehicles they had obtained through the Motability scheme.
The letter will also call for councils to take tough enforcement measures against people found using forged, stolen or borrowed blue parking badges.
And it will ask the minister to make it clear in the welfare reform bill that disabled people will continue to receive personal independence payment (PIP) – the planned replacement for disability living allowance (DLA) – once they reach 65.
They also want the government to allow people who become severely disabled only after the age of 65 to be able to apply for the mobility component of DLA.
Dolphin said: “The main thing is that we do not want to go back to 1947. If people have got cars they cannot use and haven’t got any benefits, it’s pretty much like it was in 1947, apart from the fact that you don’t get issued with a mobility trike.”
The first leg of the challenge was completed by TV presenter and former Paralympic basketball star Ade Adepitan, who set off from Greenwich on Saturday (4 June), despite last-minute problems with an overheated clutch – the original part, now nearly 80 years old – and a puncture.
The second leg was taken by DM UK member Dan McIntyre, from Manchester, who is carrying out most of the driving duties on the challenge.
Once he reaches Switzerland, another leg is set to be completed by Nicholas Hamilton, the disabled younger brother of Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton, and an up-and-coming racing driver in his own right.
Once McIntyre has driven the trike safely back to London, it will be steered across the finish line outside the Houses of Parliament on Thursday (16 June) by another former Paralympian, Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson.