The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is supporting a Manx woman’s charitable efforts to collect unwanted wheelchairs for distribution to developing countries.

Pam Kerruish’s involvement with UK charity Through the Roof and their ‘Wheels for the World’ programme started a few years ago after she spent time with Voluntary Service Overseas in Tajikistan, the poorest country in Central Asia.

Wheels for the World gathers old and unwanted wheelchairs from around Britain, after which they are renovated by prisoners at HMP Parkhurst before being sent overseas.

This is the second occasion Pam has organised a collection in the Island for Through the Roof and once again she is being accompanied on the trip by Ali Gell, Island-based founder of Your Girl Friday, who is assisting Pam with packing the collected wheelchairs and acting as co-driver for the trip to Aldershot.

During her time in Tajikistan Pam worked in an institution for disabled children and was shocked to discover that many had never left the building.

‘The treatment of the children left much to be desired,’ said Pam. ‘Most of them rarely or never went outside, even those who could walk. Whatever their disability, I felt that all children should be able to enjoy some fresh air. I looked at ways of addressing this, but found it very difficult to obtain wheelchairs in Tajikistan.

‘However, I heard that Wheels for the World was organising delivery of some wheelchairs to the country and asked if they could supply some to the institution, which they were happy to do. The reaction from the children was incredible, and it was wonderful to see them venturing outside after being stuck indoors for so long.’

Pam and Ali loaded up the van on July 16th before sailing to Liverpool the following day.

Last time Pam collected around 50 wheelchairs, with help from residential homes, amenity sites, the Department of Health and Social Care and other organisations, and this year she has gathered another 80 or so.

‘It’s been another brilliant effort from all involved,’ said Pam. ‘I’d like to thank everyone for their support - the delivery of these wheelchairs will have a marked impact on the quality of life for many who live in developing countries and I’m so grateful for kind assistance of the Steam Packet Company, 4 Hire, Manx Petroleums and Ali.’

Brian Convery, Sales Development Manager for the Steam Packet Company, said: ‘Pam has yet again done a fantastic job of sourcing and collecting these wheelchairs, and for organising the delivery. Her passion for the charity and the work it does is obvious we are delighted to play our part in what she is trying to achieve.’

Left to right – Brian Convery, Sales Development Manager at the IOM Steam Packet Company, Pam Kerruish, the driving force behind the Island’s wheelchair collection project, Cath Moore from 4 Hire and Ali Gell from Your Girl Friday