STOP PRESS: Already a noble cause, this tour was “just” going to be yet another general ataxia fundraising/awareness-raising event (adding to the £1,100 raised for charity so far). However, it just got rather personal*.  Graham Fryatt, who spent 4 days walking with me around the Isle of Arran, along with Karen Servadei too, now needs to raise £4,700 to enable the University College London Hospital (UCLH) in conjunction with the Institute of Sports Exercise and Health (ISEH) to carry out a pilot study of a potential new treatment for his son who has Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA).

So this tour, and this year’s Christmas Prize Giveaway, will be dedicated solely to helping Graham raise these funds.

If you want to know more, or you wish to help him now, please see:

So, to promote next year’s tour, I will again be holding a Prize Giveaway at Christmas. Prizes worth over £1,000 were given away in the previous Christmas Giveaway – so with three times as much time to amass prizes this time around, I expect it to be even tastier.

If you/your company would like to donate a voucher or gift card as a prize this year, please contact me here or via Twitter (@ataxiascot). All prizes, and the donating company, will be reviewed (and these reviews , which will include links to your own websites and social media accounts, will be listed on this page). Excellent advertising, and rather positive PR, during the run-up to the Christmas shopping period.

Donated prizes should be vouchers which can be redeemed for actual products. As well as reducing my own onward postal costs (to the eventual winner), this solution also has obvious benefits for you the prize donors (product manufacturers/retailers). Instead of allowing me to show just one of your products, a voucher allows me to showcase all of your products that can be purchased for the voucher value. And during the Christmas shopping period too.

* So why is this so personal?

Following my own ataxia diagnosis in 2015, where I was told that I would gradually lose the ability to walk at all (and that there was absolutely nothing that anyone could currently do to prevent this from happening – it was inevitable), I ended up being a wee bit “distressed” (as can only be expected I suppose).

It seemed especially cruel though. All of my life was spent being pretty active. I had chosen to have an active life, travelling all over the world, instead of a “regular” stay-at-home family life. So now, not only would I no longer be able to continue as planned – I had no family network to support me.

Travel. The one activity that had been so central to my life, would now be impossible.

But then I heard about Iain Fryatt.

Although Iain has had the more aggressive form of ataxia (Friedreich’s Ataxia) since he was just 9 years old (he’s now in his 30s), and although he has been using a wheelchair for quite a few years now, I read that he had just got to the summit of Kilimanjaro in a specially-adapted trike (with the support of his father Graham, and brothers).

Just hearing this was the medicine I needed at that point.

If a wheelchair-using guy could reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, then perhaps travel was still an option for me? Just not in the way I had travelled previously.

I would just have to travel, and live, differently.

Which is why supporting Graham now, and the medical team who accompanied Iain Fryatt on his ascent of Kilimanjaro, is so very, very important to me.

Thank you for any, and all, donations!

The European Wheelchair Tour 2019

The 2019 Tour route follows a similar route to my 2016 “walking” tour of Europe (where I walked in major city parks, or recognised walking routes, and travelled between cities by bus or train).

Only this time around, I’ll be “wheeling” instead of using my walking stick (to emphasise the progressive nature of ataxia). I’ll also always be travelling between cities by train this time too – to show just how easy it is to arrange European rail travel from the comfort of your own armchair (“Hey, if a guy in a wheelchair can manage it….”). I’ll also be highlighting the best practices/attitudes to accessibility in rail travel that I find in Europe (in the hope that other providers follow suit).

28 April  Glasgow (Glasgow Kiltwalk)

29 April  Edinburgh (Scottish Parliament)

30 April  London (Regents’ Park) [Sponsors: Apex Hotels, The Lampery, Square Meal]

1 May     Lille (La Citadelle)

2 May     Paris (Parc de Sceaux)

3 May     Paris (La Coulée Verte René-Dumont)

4 May     Cannes (La Croisette)

5 May     Nice (Promenade des Anglais)

6 May     Milan (Parco Sempione)

7 May     Innsbruck (Hofgarten)

8 May     Vienna (Schweizergarten)

9 May     Prague (Rieger Park)

10 May   Berlin (Tiergarten)

11 May   Hamburg (Aussenalster)

12 May   Amsterdam (Vondelpark)