Disabled man who fell from chair praises store for leaping into action

John Knowles said he had never seen such swift and long-term action taken by a business

John Knowles said he had never seen such swift and long-term action taken by a business - Credit: Google Street View/Steve Adams

A Hellesdon man who fell from his wheelchair has welcomed the swift work of a business to ensure it never happened again.

John Knowles visited B&Q in Boundary Road with his wife Beryl in April when he tipped out of his manual wheelchair while coming down a dropped kerb.

"I left at great speed," he said.

"I hit the pathway which goes between the rows of cars probably at too fast a speed and I went ahead and the chair didn't.

John Knowles, general secretary of the Noel Coward Soceity at his Hellesdon home. Photo : Steve Adam

John Knowles praised the actions of B&Q staff after he fell out of his manual wheelchair outside the Boundary Road store - Credit: Steve Adams

"The kerb was a lowered one but not flush with the path.

"Literally within seconds there were four B&Q staff helping me. The response was tremendous."

Thankfully uninjured, John thought nothing of it until he returned last week and discovered a concrete ramp had been erected in the same spot to ensure it never happened again.

Most Read

He added: "It's almost unique. I don't think I've ever seen a business respond to an incident like that so quickly. I've certainly never seen it done so speedily and with no fuss.

"I felt touched, especially after years of struggling with Hellesdon's pavements."

The 77-year-old retired teacher, who has lived in Hellesdon for 45 years, suffers with post-polio syndrome.

As the condition affects his lower legs, John uses a wheelchair to get about independently.

B&Q Boundary Road, Norwich 

B&Q Boundary Road, Norwich - Credit: Google Street View

He continued: "If you talk to any disabled person, they get very tired of the same cliché approach towards disability.

"Commercial pressures have enabled better access but in a medieval city like Norwich trying to provide wheelchair access is very difficult."

He said that he sees parents with children, as well as people using other mobility aids, also struggling in and around the city - whether that be due the patchwork make-up of the pavements or lack of drop-down kerb crossings.

Shelagh Gurney, Conservative district councillor for Hellesdon said: "I'm really glad that B&Q helped Mr Knowles.

"Dropped curbs are an issue, no doubt.

Shelagh Gurney

Shelagh Gurney, county councillor for Hellesdon - Credit: Norfolk County Council

"Unfortunately, it's not a resource that gets adequately funded.

"It's a difficult issue. And not just in Hellesdon and Norwich but across the whole of the UK. We're not unique by any means."

A B&Q spokeswoman said: "We are really pleased to have made a difference for John and grateful for his kind words.

"We want all of our customers to have a positive experience when shopping with us."