A woman with cerebral palsy has thanked a Cheshire travel business for supporting a charity that has turned her dreams of driving a racing car into reality.
Self-confessed adrenaline junkie, Hannah Shelmerdine, who is also visually impaired, was able to get behind the wheel for the first time thanks to Speed of Sight - a cause set up by multiple blind land speed record breaker, Mike Newman with the help of his friend John Galloway to provide motor sport experiences for people with disabilities.
The charity has joined forces with The Perfect Getaway - a Hartford- based travel company whose work organising tailor-made breaks is pumping much-needed funds into the organisation.
Husband and wife team Trevor and Caroline Vanzie’s creation of a spin-off website for Speed of Sight offers competitively-priced holidays.
A percentage of the commission they earn is donated to Speed of Sight to make memorable experiences like Hannah’s happen.
Caroline said: “It was through a business networking session that Trevor got talking to John Galloway from Speed of Sight and through John, he met the seven times world record holder and founder, Mike Newman.
“After a lot of conversations and coming to learn about their ethos, we developed a working relationship with the charity and set up a website www.speedofsightholidays.co.uk , where supporters can book competitively-priced breaks and benefit from our personal complimentary service.
“We surrender a percentage of our commission back to the charity, which is great because it’s such a worthy cause as it allows people to do things they never thought possible.”
Living proof of that is Hannah, who now volunteers for Speed of Sight, which organises track days to allow people of all ages with disabilities to enjoy the excitement and thrill of motorsports, while promoting self-confidence, social interaction and physical and mental wellbeing.
The 31-year-old has now hit the racing circuit five times and said taking part in track days gives her the opportunity to explore what she can do.
Hannah, who goes sailing every week and has also tried rock climbing, abseiling, zip wiring and canoeing, said: “My two younger sisters both own cars and I always felt a bit left out because I’m a full time wheelchair user.
“My carers are always trying to get me to experience different things, so for my 30th birthday, they organised for me to have a track day with Speed of Sight and I haven’t looked back since.
“The first time I got behind the wheel was scary but after I’d done it once, there was no stopping me.
“I’ve never come across a charity like it before and even though my needs are complex, they were able to accommodate me and suddenly, so many barriers were broken down for the first time in my life.
“I’m now a bit of an adrenaline junkie and have done track days about five times, I’ve even done the off-road experience.
“I don’t tend to have any lunch before I go because it is so fast and the whole experience is so thrilling.
“It just shows that anything is possible and it’s great for a charity to offer such an opportunity for people, no matter what their disability.
“It makes you realise what you can do.”
John Galloway who co-founded Speed of Sight said: “Our aim is to be inclusive and accessible for our supporters, no matter what their ability, so when we met with Trevor and Caroline we sat down and decided to work together to provide something that was a perfect fit for us both.
“It’s an exciting new venture that’s great for us because The Perfect Getaway makes a donation for every booking made.”
The Perfect Getaway was founded in February last year when the couple decided to pool their globe-trotting expertise by becoming part of the Not Just Travel franchise.