A charitable venture undertaken by Island resident Pam Kerruish has received assistance from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
Pam recently became involved with UK charity Through the Roof and their ‘Wheels for the World’ programme after completing Voluntary Service Overseas in Tajikistan, the poorest country in Central Asia, in 2009 and 2010.
Wheels for the World operates by gathering old and unwanted wheelchairs from around Britain, which are sent to HMP Parkhurst to be renovated by prisoners. These are then distributed to developing countries.
Whilst in Tajikistan Pam worked in an institution for disabled children and was shocked to find that many of the children had never been outside of the building.
She explained: ‘The treatment of the children left much to be desired; most rarely or never went outside, even if they could walk. I believed that, whatever their disability, each child should be able to enjoy some fresh air. I wanted to address this, but it is very difficult to get wheelchairs in Tajikistan.
‘Fortunately, I found that Wheels for the World was bringing wheelchairs to Tajikistan and I was able to get some from them to give to the institution. The impact that just a few wheelchairs had on the children was astounding, it was wonderful for them to be able to go outside and simply feel the sun on their skin after years of being indoors.’
On returning to the Island, Pam contacted Through the Roof and enquired about becoming a collector in the Isle of Man. With the help of local residential homes, amenity sites, the Department of Health and a number of other organisations, Pam collected around 50 wheelchairs to send on to Wheels for the World.
Local van hire company 4 Hire offered to lend Pam a van, free of charge, to transport the wheelchairs to a UK collection point and the Steam Packet Company was also delighted to offer its assistance.
Joining Pam on the journey to the Wheels for the World depot in Fordingbridge, near Salisbury was Alison Gell, Island-based founder of Your Girl Friday. Alison assisted Pam with packing the collected wheelchairs and acting as co-driver for the long trip to Fordingbridge.
Pam said: ‘I would like to extend my thanks to everyone involved, including the Steam Packet Company, 4 Hire and Alison Gell, in helping me collect and transport these wheelchairs to Through the Roof in the UK. It really does make a huge difference to people in developing countries, and I am very grateful to all those who made this possible.’
Brian Convery, Sales Development Manager for the Steam Packet Company, said: ‘We were only too happy to help Pam with her venture. It is clear that she is incredibly passionate about helping Wheels for the World and we were pleased that we could play a part in this worthy cause.’
Left to right – Brian Convery, Sales Development Manager at the IOM Steam Packet Company, Ali Gell from Your Girl Friday, Cath Moore of 4 Hire, and Pam Kerruish, the driving force behind the Island’s wheelchair collection project.