Original Whizz Kid plans record road trip: the length of Britain in an F1 powered wheelchair

Whizz Kidz helped him go further, now he's off on a record breaking 1000-mile odyssey

He’s no longer a kid, but he’s still got plenty of whizz. In 1990, when Whizz-Kidz launched, 7-year-old Adam Stanton-Wharmby was one of the first recipients of a wheelchair from the charity. It was called the ‘turbo chair’. If only Adam knew then the challenge he would be taking on 32 years later.

Now 39, he aims to break the world record for travelling from Land's End to John O'Groats in a powered wheelchair. To tackle nearly a thousand miles in the 22 days needed to break Mary Laver’s record from 2009, Adam is calling on some specialist help. The Mercedes Formula One Team has upgraded his wheelchair. Now that’s a turbo chair.

The expertise of the team, more used to making Lewis Hamilton go even faster, is welcome because Adam’s wheelchairs don’t get the easiest of lives. Since 2017, he has completed a series of battery-flattening wheelchair marathon challenges. The F1 link came about after a journey from Cheltenham to Silverstone attracted the attention of charity Grid4Good. The London Marathon route, Birmingham to Manchester, and Cheltenham to the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, following national cycle routes, have all been tackled and successfully traversed, raising money for charity.

You’d think helping good causes, raising awareness of accessibility, and hopefully breaking a world record would be enough. But Adam will also be testing the viability of recharging wheelchairs using the electric car charging network on his latest odyssey, which starts on 21 March.

“For this project I wanted to highlight and investigate the issue of limited battery power specifically, both for wheelchairs and mobility scooters, as this was the main challenge that I faced in my previous fundraising efforts,” he says. He wants to see if using some of the thousands of rapid chargers across the UK, which are expanding massively to accommodate a projected one million electric vehicles on the roads, could also power his wheelchair up the length of Great Britain. That could make a big difference for other wheelchair users who would be able to access reliable, fast charging when they are on the move.

Adam’s fact-finding record attempt recognises the help he received from Whizz-Kidz all those years ago. He has cerebral palsy, which in his case, means he cannot walk and has no use of his left arm. “I am really pleased to be supporting Whizz-Kidz in my latest and biggest challenge,” he says. “They work tirelessly to transform the lives of wheelchair users across the UK, supporting them to become confident and independent young adults. I was lucky to be one of the first beneficiaries of the charity and received my first powered wheelchair from them when I was seven years old. It was called ‘the turbo chair’.”

As with many in Whizz-Kidz’s community, Adam has given back to the charity as he’s grown older, keen to see the difference he knows the right wheelchair can make in a young person’s life. “I have volunteered for the charity as a wheelchair skills trainer, supporting the ambassador clubs and Whizz-Kidz camps.

When I volunteer, I see how excited the kids get when they're in their powered wheelchairs being able to move around independently.

Sarah Pugh, CEO of Whizz-Kidz, says: “We are thrilled that Adam is taking on this massive challenge and supporting Whizz-Kidz. It is a huge task and we will cheer him on this adventure. We rely on the generosity and dedication of people like Adam, as without them, we would not be able to transform the lives of young wheelchair users across the UK. Too many young people aren’t getting the wheelchair or support that fully meets their needs. Without the ability to be independent, young wheelchair users are restricted in their chances to socialise and participate with friends and family and society. We’re here to change that.”

Follow Adam on Twitter to get updates on his record-breaking challenge attempt and don't forget to contribute to his Just Giving page.

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