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John in his workshop

The People Making Things Possible – John

Engineer, John Dunnett, gives a first-hand account of what it’s like to be a REMAP volunteer, and some of the clients he’s helped along the way.

I am a retired engineering manager with a well-equipped workshop that I use for making miniature working steam engines.

I subscribe to the “Model Engineers Workshop” magazine and, in the August 2018 issue 272, there was an article that caught my attention. This article “The Remap Awards 2018” was showcasing a range of projects by volunteers that had been completed and put forward for an award. I felt that this was something that I could use my 50 years of experience and my workshop for the benefit of others, so I contacted the Scottish National Co-ordinator for more information. I met with him two days later and let him see my workshop. He explained how Remap operated and he explained some of the unusual projects that had been carried out.

My first project was a simple woodworking job to make a set of “boots” to raise a table in the dining room of a retirement home for a lady in a wheelchair. Once these were fitted she could sit at a table with friends instead of sitting alone with her meal on a tray.

My next enquiry was for a little boy who walks with the aid of a small-wheeled walker. His family liked to go to the beaches near their home, but Seth had to sit on a rug while his siblings ran along the sand and paddled in the sea.

My solution was to make a simple large-wheel replica of his expensive walker, fitted with large wheels to cope with the sand from 2 damaged Zimmer frames that I obtained. The replica was based on a couple of photos and measurements that his mother took for me, as Covid had prevented us from meeting.

I obtained golf caddy car wheels from the golf professional at the local golf course and made up axles and castors for them.

When the covid restrictions were eased in March allowing us to meet outside I met the family on the beach and Seth got his first sight of his “Beach Walker”

It took him a couple of minutes to adapt to the large wheels which do encroach on his walking space. Then he was away, and once he was on the damp sand he could move quickly. Like most inquisitive little boys, he moved close to where the waves were breaking on the sand until the water just came up and touched his boots. He watched another couple of waves touch his boots and then he followed out the receding wave. His mother and I realised what was about to happen and we ran to catch him before the wave hit him at bum level. All three of us had wet boots and trousers so that called an end to the successful trial. I never thought that at the age of 75 I would go paddling in the North Sea in March!

Later in the summer his mother sent pictures of Seth in his walker playing in the sea with lots of other kids.

The walker was assembled from recycled materials and assembled using screws and rivets by local supplier. So no costs were involved in the project.

This project gave me a great sense of achievement.

I have done several other projects for children and the look on their faces when they try their new aid is priceless!

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