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Motorhome mission is complete

The first rental motorhome specifically built for wheelchair users in New Zealand is all revved up and ready to go, thanks to the efforts of Masterton resident Catriona Williams.

After discovering several years ago that there weren’t any accessible motorhomes for hire, Williams – who has been a wheelchair user for 21 years – made it her mission to correct this oversight.

Four years ago, she and her husband wanted to do a road trip across the country, but when they tried to book a motorhome that was accessible, they found there were no options.

“My husband Sam and I were talking about doing a road trip four years ago, and we did a Google search and realised absolutely nothing was available,” she said.

Research also indicated that Milner Mobility, which specialises in wheelchair accessible vehicles, was receiving “two to three inquiries a week” about accessible motorhomes at the time.

Williams spearheaded fundraising efforts that raised more than $400,000 via donations from Greenstone Partners, Sitipek, the Hugo Charitable Trust, and another anonymous donor – “We call them the awesome foursome,” she said – which enabled ACM Motorhomes to design and build the vehicle to the required specifications.

The custom-built vehicle is now the first fully accessible motorhome that can be rented in the country, and allows wheelchair users – or “wheelies”, as Williams refers to them – to either ride up front as a passenger or to drive.

“There is also a hoist at the back for getting in and out of the vehicle, as well as a slide-out cooktop and a fold-out bed that is electronically operated,” Williams said.

The vehicle can now be booked from Milner Mobility for $425 a week, with 60 per cent of the rental fee being shared by the New Zealand Spinal Trust and Catwalk, a spinal cord research trust founded by Williams.

Since it has promoted the availability of an accessible motorhome, Milner Mobility has reported that “the enquiries have just been huge both internationally and locally”.

For her part, Williams hopes the popularity of the campervan will mean more can be built.

“Wheeles who want to go on a holiday should get the campervan and try it out. We have been lucky to get this out for wheelies to enjoy.”

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