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Mill Lodge, the specialist Huntington’s Disease inpatient unit took delivery of a £30,000 vehicle - after an eight-year fundraising drive. The lease of the specially adapted wheelchair-accessible Ford Tourneo has been made possible by the fundraising efforts and generosity of staff, patients, families and supporters.

Their efforts have included two UK-wide sponsored tractor rides, a Three Peaks mountain climb by staff and donations from Ashby Rotary Club and the LPT’s own charitable funds. 

The Mill Lodge team says the new vehicle, which can comfortably carry three passengers and a patient in a wheelchair, will bring new levels of freedom for patients at the unit, in Narborough.

Mill Lodge matron Alana Barby said: “Until now we have had to borrow a tailgated mini-bus for outings we were restricted because we needed two staff to accompany the patients and we couldn’t get it into shopping centre car parks because of its size.

“The new vehicle is more like a ‘home’ car and can be driven by our staff on a normal licence but it has an automatic winch for a wheelchair and allows the patient to travel safely, still within their specialised wheelchair.

“We had one patient who wanted to go to the cinema but was hampered because her specialised wheelchair was too tall for some of the wheelchair taxis. A number of our patients have specialised wheelchairs and all will fit in the new vehicle.

“It means patients can now get out and about more easily, for their own personal care shopping for example.  It’s also a lovely shade of blue!”

Among those pictured here celebrating the arrival of the vehicle, which staff say will bring new levels of ‘freedom’ for the patients, is LPT chair Cathy Ellis, and family members Angela Sewell and retired farmer David Neal.

David raised more than £8,000 for Mill Lodge with a sponsored tractor drive from John O’Groats to Land’s End in 2008 and a three-charity round-the-British coastline fundraiser in 2010. In all, he covered more than 6,600 miles at an average of 22 miles per hour.

David said: “My dad was a patient at the old Mill Lodge in Kegworth and two uncles, one of who has also passed away, had Huntington’s Disease, so it’s a cause very close to my heart. It’s brilliant to see they have their new vehicle. I’ve hopefully helped a little bit and I hope they get plenty of use out of it.”

Angela Sewell is the aunt of former Mill Lodge patient Jenny Poole who bequeathed £7,700 to the vehicle fundraising drive.

Angela commented: “Jenny was 28 when she was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease in 2005 and from then on she had excellent support and care from the service. She was a real party animal and used to love the staff helping to paint her nails and doing her hair and she would go out in the minibus.

“Jenny died in 2014 but she would be delighted that this is happening and Mill Lodge is finally getting the vehicle everyone has worked so long for.”

You can donate online to support the ongoing running costs of the Mill Lodge patient vehicle.