Sam Renke, Hannah Bishop and Tom Fletcher
Samantha Renke, Hannah Bishop and Tom Fletcher

Designed to overcome inaccessibility frustrations, a 23-year-old woman’s imaginative dream wheelchair has won first prize in Whizz-Kidz and Duchenne UK’s nationwide competition.

Launched in April 2019, the competition tasked young wheelchair users up to the age of 25 across the UK to draw or write about their dream wheelchair.

Promoted to over 27,000 schools and open to all young wheelchair users in the UK, entries to the competition were judged in three different age categories (under 12s, 13 – 17, and 18 – 25) with the winners selected by a panel of wheelchair users, led by the actress and campaigner Samantha Renke

Hannah Bishop from Horsham won first prize for her unique design which stair climbing and ‘hover’ features, inspired by her personal frustrations of trying to access places like her friends’ houses or beaches in a wheelchair

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Hannah commented: “I have been to Littlehampton, Worthing and Brighton and it is still very difficult to get to the seafront. This made me think about how a wheelchair could be improved. My design would allow me to go to the beach and to use stairs. This competition has inspired me and other young people.

“I believe that disabled people can achieve anything they want and should never give up trying! Planners can make things a lot easier for us, but all of the technology I imagined in my design may really be possible in ten or twenty years.”

wheelchair whiiz-kidz hannah competition winner
Hannah’s competition-winning design

The #DreamWheelchair award was presented to Hannah at an awards ceremony in London by Samantha Renke and Whizz-Kidz patron & McFly frontman Tom Fletcher on the 7th August 2019.

Discussing the entries, Samantha Renke said: “The standard of entries was high and showed that every young person wants their wheelchair to be unique and different. There shouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to mobility.

“Hannah’s design stood out because of the innovative ways she wanted her wheelchair to help her navigate an inaccessible world. We hope this competition will give food for thought not just about what a wheelchair can be, but also how wider society needs to be more accessible and inclusive.”

As part of her prize, Hannah received a 3D printed model of her design, created by engineering firm Frazer-Nash Consultancy. Two runners up, Isabelle Jones, 9, and Joseph Moran, 14, from Bath, also received photo rendered images of their designs.

Tom said: “The entries came from far and wide and each & everyone showed that young disabled people want far more than just a set of wheels to move around in. Some designs were wild and wacky, others were inspired and innovative but all of them showed so much imagination and creativity. Hannah should be really proud for winning such a close-run competition.”

The competition formed part of the £1million ‘Wheels of Change’ project.

A collaboration between Whizz-Kidz, Duchenne UK and The University of Edinburgh, the project focuses on the development of new mobility technology and equipment and is funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

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