Former British paratrooper and rifleman Victor Gregg is a World War 2 veteran whose horrific experiences have been documented in the Rifleman book trilogy, serialised in the national press and heard on the BBC.
As a prisoner of war escapee who was sentenced to death and then ‘torn into bits mentally’ after surviving the allied bombing of Dresden, 97-year-old Victor found he had a new challenge in his life, his mobility.
Victor and his wife of 50 years, Bett (84), from Swanmore in Hampshire, cover miles each week on their mobility scooters but were forced to stay local because lifting the heavy scooters into the car was an impossible task.
“We both have a scooter – otherwise she’s off without me!,” Victor explains. “We love our days out but you can’t get far if you can’t get the scooters into the car. We’re both in good health and the last thing we wanted was to lose the freedom of choosing where we go and when we go. We saw an advert for Autochair and within two days of having the demonstration, the hoist was fitted. It works like a dream and has made so much difference to our getting about.”
The couple bought an easy-to-use Autochair 150kg 4-way Olympian hoist with an extra bracket to lift the second scooter. Fitted to their VW caddy van, its simple, touch button operating system has the power to lift up to 200kg in weight and effortlessly lifts their two scooters into the back of the van.
Victor added: “The Olympian instantly gave us freedom and choice. We go to music festivals, shopping, sight-seeing, on holidays and day trips and because our families live all over the country, we now have the flexibility of taking the scooters with us.”
Today’s freedom is a far cry from the events of more than 70 years ago when Victor was held by Germans in a makeshift prison in the historic city of Dresden. He’d been sentenced to death for burning down the soap factory where he was working as a punishment for twice trying to escape his POW camp.
Unexpectedly caught up in the allied troups’ bombing of Dresden in 1945, Victor’s eye witness account of the brutal and controversial slaughter of civilians is told through his book The Rifleman: A Front Line Life. Victor went on to write Kings Cross Kid – a tale of childhood between the wars and Soldier Spy: A Survivors Tale which tells of Victor’s post-war life, involving MI5, MI6 and the KGB. Today Victor regularly appears on television and radio talking about his experiences.
“I know I’m lucky to have survived the horrors of Dresden. It took me over 40 years to get over what I saw and it still haunts me to this day. But, I’ve made sure I’ve lived a full life ever since and I wasn’t going to let my reduced mobility stop me doing what I want. Thanks to the new Autochair Olympian hoist, Bett and I have the freedom to travel wherever we want to go again. And that is absolutely priceless.”
Victor Gregg is the author of Rifleman, Dresden, King’s Cross Kid and Soldier, Spy available through http://www.bloomsbury.com/author/victor-gregg/ with proceeds going to charities including Help the Heroes.
For more information about Autochair, visit www.autochair.co.uk,