Stroke survivor and determined Sahara marathon competitor, Andy Ibbott from Northants, has been appointed Event Ambassador for The Mobility Roadshow 2017, taking place at NAEC Stoneleigh, 1-3 June.

In March 2011, Andy experienced a massive Stroke during a routine operation on his neck to remove a tumour from his carotid artery. Aged just 46, the father of two lost movement to his right side and the ability to speak leaving him completely dependent on family and friends. With much determination, he continues with his journey to recovery and is now concentrating on his lifelong dream of completing the Marathon des Sables – a six-day, ultra-marathon event in the Sahara Desert. As a Mobility Roadshow Ambassador, Andy is delighted to be joining an inspirational group of dedicated volunteers who raise awareness of the free-to-attend annual event through their communities and network of contacts.

Organised by Goose Live Events Ltd on behalf of charity Mobility Choice, The Mobility Roadshow incorporating Get Going Live! is Europe’s largest independent mobility and accessible vehicle test-drive event. Visitors with disabilities can test and compare the latest assistive vehicles, adapted steering controls and new mobility product innovations all in one location. The popular Get Going Live! feature focuses on the needs of young and novice disabled drivers aged 16 plus, and offers the chance for all visitors to test drive a variety of vehicle adaptations, from basic push-pull controls to hi-tech options, including drive-from-wheelchair models. It provides essential advice for those seeking solutions to adapted driving for the first time and the chance to test drive vehicles under the supervision of professional drivers. Andy is keen to promote the event’s features to other people seeking life-changing mobility products and enhanced independence, based on his own experiences and determined road to recovery.

Andy comments: “At the time of my neck operation, I was a keep-fit fanatic who lived life at 100 miles an hour! I was a director of the California Superbike School, a race coach in the MotoGP series and was training for the Marathon des Sables. The stroke was devastating. My wife, Donna, was told I might not survive the first 72 hours, which thankfully I did but the impacts were crushing. I was forced to remain in bed for days at a time, was fed with a tube through my stomach and was completely dependent on others. I found it very hard to cope with my loss of independence.”

Having hit what he describes as “rock-bottom”, Andy was determined to walk again and regain the use of his right hand. Weeks of therapy exercises saw improvements to his speech, but he was still experiencing problems with the right side of his body. At this point, Andy was told his recovery had plateaued and he would always walk with a limp and walking stick.

Andy comments: “Having come such a long way already in my recovery, I refused to accept that. Now after months of challenging physiotherapy and much determination, I’m training once again for my ultimate challenge, The Marathon des Sables, and raising funds for the disability charity Scope in the process. It’s the equivalent of running from London to Dover and back again – except in 120-degree heat and with a backpack on! I’ll be running with team-mates as I don’t have full control over my right leg and wear a special brace. They also support me with communication, planning and problem-solving.”

Andy adds: “I am delighted to be an Ambassador for The Mobility Roadshow. Having come through this long journey of rehabilitation, I can fully appreciate the importance of independence and mobility in a way that I never could before the stroke. The event is so important in providing people with options for their own independence, something I shall never take for granted again.”

For more information about this free to attend event, visit www.mobilityroadshow.co.uk.