Motorvanation (Noun) The motivation to allow full mobility in a motorcaravan
We have invented a new word! It’s every writer’s dream! Having created it and used it here in print, all we need now is for significant numbers of people begin using it in conversation and, in no time at all, it will appear in English dictionary the world over. The word is Motorvanation and it means the motivation that allows for full mobility in a motorcaravan.
Karla Baker and Stephen Wills are writing colleagues of ours and are, like us, members of the Caravan Writers Guild. They have motorvanation by the bucketful! A young couple from Dorset, they first met at school and have been putting up with each other since they were 14. But Stephen and Karla are not your average couple. Karla has a genetic condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) which means that her muscles are weak and she needs an electric wheelchair to get around. You may think this would hold them back, but they have never allowed Karla’s disability to stop them enjoying a life of touring. Quite the opposite, and you only need log onto their website; “Adventure Wheels” to discover how their specially converted “home-on-wheels” has allowed them to head off on adventures together. They have already travelled thousands of miles and made millions of memories but believe there is still so much to explore!
Karla writes, “From our perspective (travelling with a disability), a leisure vehicle has completely transformed our lives! Having a vehicle that’s been modified to suit our exact needs takes away the stress and expense of trying to find suitable accommodation, which makes the whole experience of travelling so much easier and more enjoyable. Because of this, we tend to travel a lot more often, and to places we probably wouldn’t if it wasn’t for our leisure vehicle. Spending so much time outdoors and exploring new places has an immeasurable benefit on both our physical and mental wellbeing.”
Motorcaravanning has always been a great way to see the world, no matter what abilities you have but some van owners have disabilities that need to be overcome. Adapting a campervan or motorhome for wheelchair use can be a huge challenge if you don’t know who to speak to. Knowing what is possible to do practically and safely, requires expert knowledge and talented engineers. First choice of van converters for Karla Baker and partner Stephen would be Coachbuilt, a company based in Nuneaton. Karla says “There really is no modification that they cannot do. From fitting a wider door and hydraulic lift, to installing wet rooms, profiling beds and ceiling-track hoists. We find the quality of their craftsmanship unbeatable and love how they keep the vehicle looking as true to the original as possible!””
Brook Miller Mobility, based just north of Huddersfield, has over two decades of experience getting those with a disability or accessibility issue on the road. Manufacturing wheelchair accessible vehicles has always been the core of the business. But now the company offers a bespoke modification service, to alter and adapt your existing motorhome with a range of accessibility options.
Another motorhome owning couple who have bags of motorvanation are Gill and Ian McCaskie. They contacted Brook Miller Mobility, seeking assistance providing wheelchair access for a Swift Kon-Tiki they had purchased. Ian had already converted the bathroom area into an accessible wet room for his wife Gill and had done a good job so far, but sought help with fitting a wide access door, with a wheelchair-accessible lift and compatible electric step. The company removed the 53cm existing door which comes as standard on the Kon-Tiki and replaced it with one of 74cm, gaining an extra 21cm to make the entry wheelchair accessible. Once the new door was fitted, engineers fitted a step infill inside the original doorway, to provide a level entrance floor to assist with wheelchair access.
They fabricated a fibreglass panel to go underneath the door entrance, to give a neat finish and keep the original look of the motorhome and added a removable cover to the side of the lift which provides access to the manual override function, access for which is needed in case of emergency operation. Finally, engineers fitted the wheelchair access lift, with a new compatible electric step which can be used when the lift is not required. Brook Miller Mobility then wrapped the door in matching grey vinyl, in keeping with the body of the motorhome. This made the modifications appear almost unnoticeable, so that if you did not know the motorhome had been modified, you would have no reason to tell.