Man with terminal muscle-wasting disease attaches a LAWNMOWER to his wheelchair to start up his own business
Simon 'has a hell of a strong character', says his proud father
Simon's older brother Adam died from the same condition – Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – when he was 14
15:01 GMT, 10 July 2012
Simon Wakelin, 20, has attached a lawn mower to the front of his wheelchair to earn money
An enterprising young man who can’t walk has become his village’s favourite gardener after rigging up a lawnmower to his wheelchair.
Simon Wakelin, 20, who has a rare genetic condition causing muscle wasting throughout his body – steers his souped-up wheelchair across the grass to create perfectly mowed lawns.
Mr Wakelin has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and been wheelchair bound from the age of eight.
He said: 'I always enjoyed keeping the lawn in shape and being outdoors.
'When I lost the use of my legs as my muscles weakened, I found myself unable to do many of the things I had done before.
'But if something gets in my way I just find a way around it. It’s hard sometimes but I find a way somehow.'
Simon enlisted the help of engineering neighbour Malcolm Seaborne to create a lawn mower wheelchair to revitalise his village lawns.
He said: 'I have been driving all my life. As a kid I was cutting grass and driving tractors on my grandfather’s farm.
'As I got older I found I couldn’t do it anymore and a couple of years ago I started thinking about what I could do.
'I thought: ‘Well I can’t drive a tractor any more so I will make my wheelchair into one’.
'I went up to my neighbour Malcolm and asked him if he could help me build a lawn mower. He likes to get his teeth into things. My dream would be to drive a tractor again.'
Malcolm welded an attachable frame to lock the lawn mower to the front of his wheelchair. With the quick click of a clip, he can now be cutting grass in minutes.
He now charges a small fee from villagers in Rhydargaeau, near Carmarthen, West Wales, to take on their overgrown gardens.
He said: 'Putting together the lawnmower and giving my own business a go has been great.
'It has given me a means to earn an income and it is a great way to meet new people.
'Having a disability does not have to stop you from doing the things you want to.'
Simon (left) pictured with his brother Adam, who died from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy when he was 14
Simon loved driving tractors when he was younger and was determined to continue doing something useful
Simon, whose breathing is aided by a ventilator, has even mowed the lawn at Anna Ryder Richardson’s Welsh wildlife park in Tenby.
Diagnosed with DMD at 16 months, Simon struggled to stay standing as he grew older – falling over becoming more frequent as the DMD develops.
He said: 'I went to school one day walking and then I sat down and went to lift my leg and I just couldn’t. I came home in a wheelchair.
'One moment you can be walking and then you’re in a wheelchair.'
Simon’s parents, Roy and Maxine Wakelin, are his full-time carers.
Mr Wakelin said it was a miracle that Simon is approaching his 21st birthday party in a few weeks.
He said: 'Simon caught pneumonia when he was 14 and only just about survived it.
'He was down to four stone and the doctors gave him a 30 per cent chance of pulling through. Not many of the boys do pull through it.
'Even able bodied people struggle with pneumonia. But he is stubborn – he has a hell of a strong character and personality on him.'
Simon was an active child but was wheel-chair bound by the time he was eight due to a genetic muscle-wasting disease
Simon’s older brother, Adam, also suffered from DMD and died from the condition aged 14 in 2003.
Mother Mrs Wakelin said: 'He would push his wheelchair to the limit when he got it and they would have to repair it every weekend. He used to do wheelies.
'He now has a 13,000 electric wheelchair quad bike, thanks to the REACT charity, which means he can go on the beach and up in the fields.
'With Simon we don’t try and have any obstacles. There is always some way we can overcome them.
'He wants a hedge trimmer next!'