After over 20 years in his field Roger Dakin understands all too well the realities of life after injury and the challenge of finding answers to physical problems on a daily basis. Achieving the fullest potential of individuals has always been the driving aim of Smile.
Finding the determination and will to create a new life after injury takes extraordinary bravery and drive. The incredible achievements we have come to witness in recent times, of injured servicemen and women reaching the North Pole with charities such as Walking with the Wounded and their participation in the Invictus Games have helped tremendously in bringing the effect that injury can have upon the lives of individuals, their families and friends to the public’s attention.
By Freddie’s Mum
'If he lives, your child is likely to be a vegetable' said the Paediatric Consultant 24 hours after Freddie’s dramatic entrance into the world found him laying in an incubator struggling for life. Yes, he actually used the word ‘vegetable’, we were probably more shocked at this than the actual message he was ‘trying’ to deliver.
It is 13 years on and far from being a vegetable Freddie is a vibrant, strong young man, with a steely will and a thirst for all that life has to offer.
It was 2009 when an ITC specialist came to visit us at home and enquired as to whether Freddie had ever tried using a SMART chair. I remember being bemused. Just how did she expect this severely disabled boy with little movement, no speech and limited sight to operate a powered wheelchair? Gently she persuaded me to consent to a trial session and this marked a turning point in our lives.
From the moment he was hoisted onto the Drivedeck he immediately found his inner Lewis Hamilton. Motoring around the school hall with the biggest grin on his face, I turned away and wept. Perhaps it was a fluke, perhaps he does not really understand cause and affect and this is just a lucky moment. It was only when the OT asked him to get ready to stop, when he stopped alongside her, waited for the mobile hoist to set down next to him, she reached down to attach his sling ready for the transfer and he hit the head switch and zoomed off again laughing that I finally got it!
5 years later, he has a SMART chair at home and it is the greatest source of independence in his life. Finally he can go where he wants, when he wants. Far from being a ‘toy’ it has proved to be a necessity, a symbol of his status as a normal teenager. Sure he spends lots of time sitting in hallways looking around, we have now come to understand that he is learning what hallways look like since his only experience prior to this was being pushed through the hall to his destination. Sometimes the hallway is his destination, it gives him a sense of how the dining room connects to the family room and as a result how he connects to his environment.
From day 1, I was amazed at the patience of Roger from Smile. Nothing was too much trouble, no adaptation was impossible and they seemed to have all the time in the world to make sure they got it right. Freddie is a motorcar addict so his SMART powerchair called a Mustang has been pimped within an inch of its life and now resembles a top of the range sports car. His SMART chair has definitely been the ‘driving force’ in maximising his mobility and improving the quality of his life.
Driving Life Forward
After over 20 years in his field Roger Dakin and his team at the Smile Centre understand the challenge of finding answers to physical problems on a daily basis. Achieving the fullest potential of individuals has always been the driving aim of Smile.
Finding the determination to create a full life takes great imagination and drive from both the individual and more vitally the support team around them.
Freddie Stanley is a prime example of a young man with a tremendous team of family and supporters making a difference and carving out a productive future for him despite his physical limitations.
When Roger first met Freddie he heard the story of his birth from his mother Sonia.
‘If he lives, your child is likely to be a vegetable,’ the Paediatric Consultant told Sonia, 24 hours after Freddie’s dramatic entrance into the world. Looking at her son, lying in an incubator struggling for life, the word ‘vegetable’ was more shocking than the actual message he was attempting to deliver of the damage done during Freddie’s delivery.
13 years on and, far from being a vegetable, Freddie is a vibrant, strong young man, with a steely will and a thirst for all that life has to offer. With the great positive energy of his mother, ‘Team Freddie’ has seen his move into one of Smile’s Smart Mustangs.
In 2009 an ITC specialist came to visit Freddie at his home and enquired as to whether he had ever tried using a SMART powerchair. Sonia recalls being bemused and unsure of how this severely disabled boy was expected, with little movement, no speech and limited sight to operate an electric wheelchair? Gently she persuaded Sonia to consent to a trial session and this marked a turning point in their lives.
A Note of Encouragement
My name is Graham Hendley. In 1973 I was involved in a road accident that left me paralysed from the neck down. After leaving hospital, I spent the next 10 years living at home with my parents. I needed intense care, my Mum and Dad had to do so much. Too much.
Before my accident I worked hard and played hard. Suddenly there was nothing. There was nothing to get up for. I seemed to spend all my time watching pointless programmes on TV or people doing things that I used to enjoy. I was in a state of total despair, as if I had fallen down a massive black hole with no way out.
In 1985 we tried a two week restpite care break at Greenacres, a Leonard Cheshire home which was a great success and I immediately applied for a residential place. During other stays I came to know one of the colourful residents called John Bunce.