David Constantine Brotherwood Customer

David Constantine MBE, awarded the International Development Achievement Award by The Guardian in 2013, is the co-founder of Motivation, a UK based charity of 23 years, which is recognised as a leader in the design, production, and distribution of high-quality, low-cost wheelchairs to developing countries across the world.

David is also a long-standing customer of Brotherwood Automobility, and discusses his experience as a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle user below.

You can find more information about Motivation and donate at www.motivation.org.uk.

 David's Story

“I have been a C4/5 quadriplegic wheelchair user since 1982. At that time the transport options for a wheelchair user were limited, and I travelled in a series of high mileage old Trafic and Kombi vans that I had converted myself with floor railings and restraints to carry my manual wheelchair. I even went without a seat belt for nearly 10 years as there was no provision for a wheelchair user!

My first encounter with Brotherwood was at the Mobility Roadshow – at the time a small event with a handful of people – in 1985. It was there that I met Rod Brotherwood, and his newly converted Nissan Prarie. At the time I remember thinking the Prarie was a ‘space-age’ car, with no B-pillar, meaning it was spacious inside. The conversion was revolutionary – properly integrated into the vehicle, unlike the ‘Pope-mobile’ style of conversion that was common at the time. And it had a simple, easy to use reel system with floor-mounted seat belts that meant the wheelchair passenger could travel safely.

I could see that the Prarie conversion was well thought through and would make my life much easier – the only problem being that there was no way I could afford one. Getting a converted vehicle through the Motability scheme at that time was difficult, especially due to the high mileage I was covering. So I carried on with my ‘home-made’ adaptations, but always wanted a Brotherwood conversion.

 A Worthwhile Visit

"In 1997 I moved from London to Bristol. Still covering a high mileage, my 20-year-old VW van blew up when I used it too much for my work, and, as I relied on it for transport, it had to be replaced. I had always wanted a Brotherwood, converted car but I thought they were too expensive; however Rod encouraged me to visit the Brotherwood factory to see if there was anything they could do.

Looking around the Brotherwood factory, I could suddenly appreciate what went in to the conversions. I was impressed by how well engineered the cars were; the consideration that went into ensuring they were safe, quiet, and draught-free. And as a heavy, high-mileage user, it was important that the conversion was solid and well made. I liked the simplicity of wheelchair access, and ergonomic Hook-i clamps that meant my wheelchair could be quickly and easily loaded and secured without getting wet in the rain. I decided to go for the Galaxy – and since then I have had 5 or 6 Brotherwood WAVs. My latest VW Sharan has now covered 158,000 miles and counting, so naturally I called Brotherwood to discuss replacing it.

 In With The New

"The new wheelchair accessible car had to be comfortable, as I regularly travel for 8 or more hours a day – from Bristol to London, going to meetings all day, then perhaps an evening event. My work with Motivation takes me across Europe, so long journeys have to be comfortable for myself and my driver. I also spend a lot of time on the phone, so the car couldn’t be too noisy.

Travelling in the desertJohn at Brotherwood knew my requirements and recommended the new Ford Tourneo Connect WAV. I visited Brotherwood to give it a try and was impressed – you can tell that it's a proper ’car’ rather than a commercial vehicle. It is very well appointed with some great features – the quick clear windscreen that I miss from my old Galaxy means that on a frosty morning the windscreen clears as quickly as the car can be reversed out of its parking space. And the Panorama sunroof means I can finally see the Clifton Suspension Bridge – I go under it every day but could never see it before. It also lets in the sunshine, which helps me to read as often the car is used as a ‘mobile office’. John also talked me through the recent changes to Motability, which meant I could finally apply for the scheme – great as the Ford is available with an affordable advance payment.

 A Personal Touch

"I have been a Brotherwood customer for a long time now and would need a lot of convincing to go to another wheelchair vehicle convertor. I have always found their staff incredibly efficient, and they have always given me good advice with no hard sell. Nothing has been too much trouble - for my 50th birthday a couple of years ago I treated myself to a VW T5 Camper, which needed a few adaptations. I didn’t want a big lift, but I wanted to sit at the front, and Brotherwood helped me with the bespoke conversion that now means I can escape for a weekend or on holiday – I’ve been to Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Morocco. It’s great for camping. The Camper is my ’freedom’ and gives me the ability to get away from it all.

 Setting New Standards

Working for Motivation"The charity I co-founded, Motivation, is pushing for higher standards of wheelchair quality and service training throughout developing countries. The wheelchairs we supply don’t follow a ‘one size fits all’ mentality- instead they focus on the user, giving a new lease of life to many people with disabilities, and enabling them to go out and achieve more than they ever thought possible. We are working with large non-government organisations to improve wheelchair standards, and along with the World Health Organization we recently created a new set of guidelines for wheelchair quality and service training which we are glad to say are being adopted by Governments across the world.

I can see many similarities between Motivation and Brotherwood in terms of breaking new ground and leading the sector. I only wish we had a company car scheme so that I could have ordered my new WAV sooner.”


You can find more information about Motivation and donate at www.motivation.org.uk.

Be Social - Share This Story With Your Friends: