Young woman ‘blacksessorizes’ her wheelchair
Fashion conscious Lizzie Perrey was not about to let a rare genetic condition and the need to use a wheelchair hold her back – or stop her looking good!
The 20-year-old school secretary who suffers with Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA), an inherited disease that attacks physical co-ordination but not cognitive ability, was so determined the condition would not impact her lifestyle, that she took out a bank loan to buy a UK-designed and manufactured wheelchair that she can accessorize with her wardrobe.
Lizzie’s online research took her to the website of Carbon Black, an innovative and ergonomically designed wheelchair manufacturer which uses Formula One carbon fibre technology to put the user back in the driving seat.
The super-lightweight and easily transportable chairs are unique in the sense that they help change everyday perceptions of disability – because people see the person and not the chair, a factor that appealed to Lizzie who manages to lead an independent life in her home of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire.
But Lizzie, who was diagnosed with FA when she was 16, has gone one step further – she is the first UK customer to bespoke the chair to her own fashion specification by ‘blacksessorizing’ her ride to make the chair practically invisible.
Lizzie’s input has transformed the normally black with orange trim orange wheelchair into something Henry T Ford and the New Zealand Rugby team would be proud of – in that it is all black.
“When I as thinking about getting a wheelchair, I did not want a conventional one which is clunky and I didn’t want to have handles and arm rests. I went online and apart from the fancy ones in the US which were really beyond my reach, I found the Carbon Black site.
“I went to their showroom in Bicester and chatted through what I wanted, and that included the colour. I liked the orange trim on the wheels, but if I am wearing pink or red, there was always going to be clash with the wheelchair, so I asked to have it all black because it then goes with everything in the wardrobe.
In October this year, 12 weeks after the visit to the showroom in Oxfordshire, Lizzie took delivery of the wheelchair.
“What I love about it, is that people don’t notice the chair or the disability, but they see me as a person,” said Lizzie who also uses as an office chair for her work.
“I can still walk providing there are things I can hold onto, but the chair is a real help with my day to day life. It folds down easily into my mum’s car to go to work and is great for going out in.”
“I took out the loan because it was what I wanted to give me real independence.” Matt Neale of Carbon Black said: “Lizzie was the first person in the UK to ‘blacksessorize’ her chair to her need and lifestyle. The independence that she talks about is helped by the look of the chair because when you meet someone in a wheelchair you subliminally make a value judgement about that person which is, albeit unintentionally, negative – you see the chair and not the person in it.”