Phil Eaglesham, a Paralympian and former Corporal in the Royal Marine Commandos, is working with the Medical Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (MAMRC) to design a new type of advanced mobility device.
Having contracted Q fever while serving in Afghanistan, Eaglesham relies increasingly on mobility aids as his condition deteriorates. Along with his wife Julie and businessman Brian Meaden, he set up Conquering Horizons, a company dedicated to creating a new type of device that overcomes some of the problems associated with wheelchairs and scooters.
Known as Victor, the new device was developed in partnership with the MAMRC, with support from the Royal Marines Charity. It has an adjustable pneumatic arm that can raise the seat to a “social height” when required, allowing the user to look people in the eye and avoid being talked down to. Victor also has a sturdy wheelbase for travelling across all terrains and mounting kerbs, as well as multi-directional rear wheels to provide a tight turning circle.
A modular design will allow adjustments as user’s conditions and needs change over time. Importantly, Victor has also been designed to look good, moving away from the clunky wheelchairs and scooters that people traditionally associate with disability.
“Victor has a completely fresh, modern appearance that is far-removed from the stigmatising, institutionalised image of existing devices,” said Marcus Crossley from the Medical AMRC.
“Our aim, from the outset, has been to create a device that able-bodied people would want to be seen on.”
Conquering Horizons is currently crowdfunding for Victor with the aim of bringing the device to the public, at a cost of less than £10,000 per unit. There are currently 14.35 million people globally that require mobility devices due to neuromuscular diseases, a market predicted to be worth $15 billion by 2024. But Victor needs further investment and development before it can take on the challenge, according to Crossley.
“Phil is an inspirational person and raising money to develop Victor could have a major impact on the lives of millions who need to use mobility devices and their families,” he said.
“Victor needs more development work in order to get to a position where it can be sold to the public and we are actively supporting Conquering Horizons as it seeks to raise the necessary finance through its crowdfunding appeal.