Television actress, and Motability Scheme customer, Cherylee Houston helped the Motability Scheme celebrate the tenth anniversary of their One Big Day events by officially opening The Big Event in Manchester. The flagship event kicks off a summer programme of One Big Day events throughout the UK.
For the first time The Big Event will have a quiet room featuring sensory lights and toys as well as soft play mats and bean bags to make it even more friendly for people with autism and other cognitive disabilities. Motability Scheme advisers will also be on hand to support visitors attending the event.
Able Magazine spoke with Cherylee to find out how Motability helped her and why she got involved with the One Big Day events…
Why did you want to get involved with the One Big Day Events?
It’s an honour. Motability changed my life. I went from struggling to get into a car to travelling around on buses that weren’t very accessible, to a wheelchair accessible vehicle which meant that I could get to work easily, visit family and friends and participate in Society. Motability made it accessible so it’s an honour to be part of their One Big Day Events – to meet other people experiencing that as well.
You sound like you’re aiming to give something back…
Yes. That’s what’s so exciting about the Big Event as well: when I was originally looking for a car it was quite difficult. I think that what’s so exciting about this event is that instead of going to one dealer where you’ll see one kind of car – you can pretty much see what’s on the (whole) market. There are over 100 cars there from 27 different manufacturers and 35 different wheelchair accessible vehicles in one place, which is incredible because everyone has different access requirements – family requirements, different numbers of seats and all of those types of things. They’re all in one space so you’ll be able to figure out what’s accessible for you. (For a) test drive you just need to turn up on the day with your driver’s licence.
There are qualified driving instructors there who will do the test drive with you. You can get a real taste for what things could be like.
How did having a Motability vehicle change things for you?
I got so much more involved in life. I could get to work so much more easily. Because quite often, in acting, you tend to work in different places and outside of the (reach of) usual public transport. I was able to get the wheelchair in the car and get to places easily, without having to try to figure out how to get a cab there – or pay for the expense of getting a cab there.
Buses and trains are great but not all of them are that accessible. It’s exactly what everyone else in the world uses their car for. All of those things which had sort of been taken away from me, Motability gave me back.
Would you have been able have the same successful career without a Motability vehicle?
I think it’d be a lot harder. It makes it an awful lot easier. I start work at 7.30am and it’s not that easy at that time in the morning to organise myself on public transport – and then do a 12 hour day. It makes a hell of a difference.
It’s definitely worth looking at the Motability website because they’ve made sure that there are events around the country – in Scotland for the first time as well.
I’m going to have a good look around (at the events) because it’s time to change my own car. I’m going to see what’s available.
- One Big Day Harrogate – Yorkshire Event Centre, Saturday 12 August 2017
- One Big Day Peterborough – Peterborough Arena, Saturday 9 September 2017
- One Big Day Edinburgh – Royal Highland Centre, Saturday 23 September 2017
For more information on leasing a car, scooter or powered wheelchair through the Motability Scheme, visit: motability.co.uk or tel: 0800 953 7000.