Stuart is managing director at Cyclone Mobility. He’s been reflecting on the injuries that changed his life – and how he’s been helping others change theirs ever since.
Can you describe the events that led up to your injury?
I was a 17-year-old kid driving a car way, way too fast, 1st July 1985, and racing a friend home from an ice-skating session. I wanted to be quicker than him, and I was a bit quicker than him, but it took me five months longer to get home.
How did your injury change things?
If it wasn’t for that incident, I wouldn’t be in this business. Your life changes massively. I just wanted to make people realise that while a lot of people look at that devastating occasion in their life as the worst thing that’s ever happened, for me, it wasn’t. I’ve had worse things happen; I lost my brother, he took his own life, and that was significantly worse. I’ve had other issues which were not related to my spinal injury that have been difficult. I’ve entered a world where I’ve met a huge number of incredibly nice people.
There must have been a point where you thought, ‘I know what I’m going to do, I’m going to get into mobility’. What was that moment like?
I bought a Quickie wheelchair which everybody at that time was buying. And I knew about Marilyn Hamilton and her gliding accident and then, later, learning about paraplegic wheelchair designer, Jeff Minnebraker and him doing his own stuff. I had an engineer in mind, and I just said, “I can do that”. Everybody coming through the rehabilitation units said, “Well, that’s just a bit of metal. Surely, it shouldn’t cost that much,” and I thought, ‘I’ll make one and I’ll sell it for half the price.’ That, essentially, was the point in time that I decided that’s what I’d do.
Your company, Cyclone, has always been different; if you’re looking for a bogstandard, ordinary, clinical wheelchair, you don’t go to Cyclone, do you?
No, if you’re just looking for something that gets you down the street, then you’re not going to come to us. But if you want an active lifestyle, that’s when you come to us.
How has the business changed you over the years?
Every story leaves a mark that you can then pass on to other people. The majority of people that are coming to us have a positive attitude. They just want to get on and do stuff. Most of them are looking for a solution to take them to the next level. We’ve got people working with us that have built their own planes!
We’ve got people working with us that have been World number one and playing sport for England. We’ve also got customers that have gone out and done something completely radical, and you think, ‘Wow, I just never dreamt that was feasible’.
What does the future look like for yourself and the business?
One of my passions, is to gain my pilot’s licence. Prior to breaking my neck, I was hoping to train in the RAF as a pilot. I didn’t do that, for obvious reasons, but it doesn’t stop me flying planes. That’s my goal. For Cyclone? More of the same! We’re changing people’s lives every day.
Find out more here: https://www.cyclonemobility.com/