A revolutionary new wheelchair, invented by a former Royal Marine corporal from NI, has been backed by Dragon Den’s Deborah Meaden.
Phil Eaglesham launched the prototype of the new wheelchair just days after winning a landmark compensation claim against the Ministry of Defence, who his lawyers argued could have prevented him from contracting Q Fever while serving in Afghanistan.
The Dungannon Paralympian’s disability, which stemmed from the disease contracted on military duty, led him to invent a wheelchair that allows users to raise themselves up to the eye level of able-bodied people.
“Being in a wheelchair made me see first hand the challenges faced and so I tried out loads of solutions on the market but none of them tackled everyday problems that I, and other mobility device users, have,” said Mr Eaglesham, who now lives in Taunton, Somerset.
The new Victor prototype was unveiled this week at a launch at the Imperial War Museum in London attended by ex-servicemen and women and wheelchair users.
Also in attendance was Brian Meaden, businessmen and father of Dragons’ Den’s Deborah Meaden. After meeting at a charitable function Mr Meaden helped to introduce Mr Eaglesham to engineers from the University of Sheffield who used cutting-edge, space-age technology and Boeing engineering to reinvent the wheelchair.
The Victor chair can raise users to eye level, turn virtually on the spot, is narrow enough to get through doors, and promises to be in a more affordable price bracket.
“From the moment I met Philip and Julie I found their courage in adversity inspirational,” said Mr Meaden.
“After a long career in business this project has given me the greatest level of satisfaction in that it brings together an exciting business investment opportunity with the satisfaction of knowing that our end product will change and improve countless lives.”
Deborah Meaden, who is also backing the project, said: “That it has been born out of the hands-on, real-life experience of someone like Phil makes the solutions it offers even more pertinent and relevant. I’m sure that in 10 years’ time we will look back and wonder why we ever made mobility devices any other way.”
This year Mr Eaglesham represented Ireland in the Paralympics Games in Rio in air rifle shooting.
It is hoped that the new prototype wheelchair will be ready in time for next year’s Invictus Games for disabled servicemen in Toronto.
Mr Eaglesham has been supported in his endeavours by The Royal Marines Charity and Help for Heroes.