A wheelchair user has spoken of the transformative experience of using a specially designed wheelchair to enable him to play golf standing upright for the first time.
Peter McWilliams, a tenant at Blackwood’s Belses Gardens care home in Glasgow, attended the official launch of the Paragolfer at Mearns Castle Golf Academy, where he had the opportunity to test the innovative machine.
Powerfully built to safely access the green, the Paragolfer mechanically raises the disabled user from a sitting to a standing position, enabling them to play their swing with ease. The creative machine has been designed by international Paragolfer, Anthony Netto, and is one of only two which are currently publicly accessible in Scotland.
Anthony, who is also the founder of the Stand Up and Play Foundation, was on hand on the day of the launch to provide Peter with expert tips and ensure he made the most of his first ever golfing experience.
Peter McWilliams said: “I often follow the golf when it’s on the TV and it’s a sport I’ve always been very keen to try, but have never had the chance – until now.
“I was one of the first people at the launch to transfer into the Paragolfer, which was very exciting. It’s a fantastic machine and very easy to use and, with some tips from Anthony, I was hitting golf balls down the fairway in no time.
“Being able to stand up and play golf is something I never thought I’d experience, so I’m very grateful to Blackwood, and of course Anthony and his Paragolfer, for giving me this incredible opportunity. I would definitely recommend it to any disabled individual who is keen to try their hand at the sport.”
Paul Richoux, Social Media Coordinator at Blackwood, said: “At Blackwood, we have always been about applying the latest innovations – we have an entire department dedicated to this – so the Paragolfer is of great interest to us and our customers.
“We have a very clear intent to put technology at the heart of everything we do, so it was fantastic to be invited along to the launch and discover how this machine can help those with impaired mobility have the opportunity to participate in sporting events.
“It was great to see Peter given the opportunity to play golf for the first time and he very much enjoyed himself. We will definitely be looking to offer this same opportunity to our other customers, as it ties in nicely with Blackwood’s innovative way of thinking.”
Since it was launched 40 years ago, Blackwood has built an impressive reputation for its expertise in adapting properties to let people with disabilities, sensory impairments and age-related conditions to live as independently as possible.
Blackwood’s technology and innovation division’s main focus is to identify, support and help develop the latest design and technology which can help those with disabilities live their lives to the full.