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 No. 2- Winter



As most of you know our scheme opened for the first time in July 2003, it was set-up by Monmouthshire County Council and funded initially

for a year. The intention had always been to have an official opening but we decided to do this once we were confident that we’d ironed out

any snags and sorted out minor little details like whether or not anybody was going to use the service.


Having done this a date was set for the opening, due to some of the local ‘great and good’ needing to attend it was difficult to find a date

that was suitable for everyone, when one was finally chosen it was mid autumn rather than late summer. It is with considerable awe and

admiration that I now look back on this and realise that we managed to pick the date and almost precise time of arrival, of the Tornado 3

months previously.


A meeting organising the opening day had occurred a week or so before, the local press were informed, a

Marquee had been organised, caterers had been booked, a school choir were coming and Roy Noble had

generously donated his time and told us he was happy to open the scheme by driving a scooter through a

ribbon. We ended the meeting by discussing ‘things that could go wrong’ and contingency plans to cover

each one that we thought of. Looking back I distinctly remember that the words Monsoon, Hurricane and

Tornado were not mentioned.


The day and the weather arrived together; the morning was spent trying to put up a Marquee in a gale - an

experience that will never be forgotten by anybody involved. At one point the whole thing was airborne, looking

something like an anorexic hot air balloon before it was finally wrestled back to the car park and staked down.

As soon as the marquee was up, we realised that one side of it was under water as the drains had given up
the unequal battle with the deluge and the car park was beginning to flood. Scooters were hastily parked
over the wet bits and the chairs arranged around them. By this time we'd decided that noneof the members
were likely to turn up but as long as Roy and the press did, we could still do the launch and hopefully get the
publicity we needed to raise the scheme's profile.

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By the time that the opening had begun, there were the best part of a hundred people jammed into the marquee, to our utter amazement, despite the weather we had more rather than less people than were expected. The mayor, Roy and assorted councillors all had to stand as we were out of chairs. It was quite a sight to see, so many people on sticks or in wheelchairs, battling across the car park through lashing horrizontal rain and hurricane force winds, determined to give us their support no matter what the weather could throw at them. the day was unforgettable, immaculately dressed caterers carrying trays laden with fairy cakes delicately picked their way through the chairs and puddles as the marquee flapped and banged around them making more noise than a drummer at a heavy metal concert. One of the guests commented to my wife that it was like 'deckchairs on the Titanic'. The school choir treated us to a gentle and melodious rendition of 'Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head' as the marquee did everything it could to get airborne again.

None of this mattered, the lasting impression for all of us was the effort that people had gone to just to get there. Sheer determination, hard work and dedication is what started Shopmobility nationally in the first place, it is fitting that this demonstration of it here will hopefully go some way towards securing the future of our local scheme. On behalf of all the staff I would really like to thank everybody that supported us, the fact that so many people had gone to so much trouble to get there, proved the importance of the scheme. What could have been a total washout (literally!) was a triumph thanks to all of you. Very many thanks, again, to all of you involved.

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Gloucester Trip

 As we’ve mentioned in the last newsletter an umbrella organisation the National Federation of Shopmobility exists to look after the various Shopmobility schemes throughout the country. We asked them for some information boards that we could put up in the marquee during the opening and two
ladies from Shopmobility Gloucester very kindly brought them down to us.

After the event when we were all drying off, they suggested us organising a trip to them for our members,some time next year. This would take the form of a bus/coach picking up members from here, taking them down to Gloucester Shopmobility where scooters would be provided for a shopping trip around Gloucester.

Nothing’s been decided yet about a date but if you think that you might be interested let a member of staff know, we’ll put a list up in the office and once we’ve got an idea of numbers we’ll arrange it, we anticipate that the trip will be in the spring.


Donated Machines

 We started the scheme with six brand new medium sized scooters and two donated heavy-duty machines. The donated machines had come from another council department and from a local family. Since that time we have had another 3 scooters and 2 electric wheelchairs donated.

It goes without saying that these additional vehicles have made a tremendous difference to the service that we are able to offer. Different types of machine as well as offering variety also allow us to open up the service to a greater number of people with a wider range of mobility problems.

We are especially grateful to the families of Cliff Jones, Eric Watts and Mrs Allaway for their generosity and kindness in donating their scooters to us, we would also like to thank the various council departments, especially Chepstow Social Services for the vehicles that they contributed.

In an increasingly cynical world it is reassuring to know that there are still many thoughtful and considerate people about. The donated machines are already very popular with our members and the families that donated them have told us that they take great comfort from the fact that these machines are able to bring pleasure and freedom to so many people.

We are very proud and grateful to have been entrusted with these machines and will ensure that they’ll be well looked after and able to provide freedom and mobility for many people for a long time to come. Very many thanks again to everybody involved.


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