SPECIAL GIFT: Members of Lowestoft Model Boat Club present Felix Scase-Jones with the specially-adapted remote-controlled tug which they made for him. Below/Right/Left, the model pusher tug that was given to Felix on his 12th birthday. pictures: NICK BUTCHER
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Twelve-year-old Felix Scase-Jones loved watching model boats sailing in local parks.
But what he really wanted was a vessel of his own.
And, now thanks to fellow boating enthusiasts, his wish has come true.
Felix, from Oulton Broad, is confined to a wheelchair as he suffers from cerebral palsy and has limited control over his hands and arms – meaning he is unable to use a standard remote control.
Although he regularly watched the boats being sailed on local ponds and lakes, Felix was unable to join in the fun.
But when members of Lowestoft Model Boat Club (LMBC) heard about his hobby, they decided to take matters into their own hands – and built him a specially-adapted vessel that he could operate himself.
The club raised funds to buy parts for the model pusher tug and LMBC member Brian Ball put it together with the help of his nine-year-old grandson Lewis Farebrother, who supplied the plastic crew members from his toy box.
They presented it to Felix on his 12th birthday at the boating pond in Kensington Gardens in Lowestoft.
Club chairman Alan Wright said: “One of our club members, Phil Holden, is a friend of the family. He said that every time Felix saw model boats he got quite excited about it.
“In the end we had a fund raising event and built him a little boat.”
Felix’s mother Linda Scase-Jones said the model boat was a wonderful gift.
“We are really pleased,” she said. “It is so lovely that people who don’t know Felix want to help him to access something that other children take for granted. We are so grateful to the model boat club.
“When I found out what they wanted to do I cried. I was so overwhelmed at their kindness.
“It is a great birthday present.”
Ms Scase-Jones said that, as a result of his cerebral palsy, Felix was unable to use two levers on a remote control at the same time so the steering and the throttle had been combined in to one joystick.
She said Felix still needed support to use the controls but having the opportunity to operate the boat himself was a huge plus, as it had given him a sense of control that he did not often experience.
She said: “It is the cause and effect of it. He is in charge.
“There is so much of his life that he is not in control of. With this he can be in control. He can make the boat go where he wants to it to. From my point of view that is great.”
She added: “If there is something Felix wants to do, we will find a way of doing it – even we have to do it a bit different. With Felix it is definitely difficult to access places in his wheelchair. It sometimes does cause a barrier but we do our best to make sure he has the opportunity to join in, along with other children.”
The club raised £130 towards the model pusher tug by holding a social event. It took six weeks to build and its transmitter and receiver were donated by club member Ralph Lyell.
Any funds left over will be donated to the Clare School in Norwich, which Felix attends.