Back to the Future with Zara’s Trike

Last year, after much soul searching, we made the decision to end our Bader Braves Young Aviators Days programme following 12 hugely successful years and have, since then, been concentrating on our Bader Grants Scheme.

I’m shortly going to be publishing a recap of what the Grant Scheme achieved in 2023 but, before that I thought it would be nice to go Back to the Future with Zara’s Trike and feature one of our early and hugely satisfying grant involvements of the year!

In early March, David Bickers was introduced by Kiera Roche, founder of LimbPower, to Anna Eerdmans. Anna was one of a team of 2 Product Design students at Ravensbourne University who had been asked to design a suitable bike seat for hind and right leg amputee, Zara, so that she could resume cycling around Brighton following her amputation. It was hoped that DBF could offer support to the project through the Bader Grants Scheme. We were delighted to get involved with what promised to be a fascinating and challenging project with Anna and Chi, a talented pair of designers, determined that they wouldn’t give up until Zara was back in the saddle, pedalling around her home town safely and comfortably.

Finding the right seat for Zara, an illustrator, art teacher and mother of three, who had previously relied on her bike for transport, was a long and painstaking process, and the university project was done in conjunction with Fixperts, a free learning programme for schools and universities which connects students with their communities. (You can find out more about Fixperts via a link at the bottom of this post.) The project involved numerous discussions, ideas, experiments and prototypes and the willing support of professionals. It thoroughly tested the imagination of all involved and is a wonderful story about teamwork.

How do we bend a 25mm metal pole in a sweep curve? Any pipebender bends in an elbow shape and is often 19 or 22mm for plumbing purposes.

Because Zara has lost so much muscle and tissue as a result of her amputation, sitting on anything hard caused her huge discomfort. An early prototype was created from the idea of a seat where the right side could be inflated to a pressure that would feel comfortable for Zara. As you’ll see from the videos, this proved to be unsuccessful as Zara could still feel pressure from the front of the saddle. Thoughts then turned to an innovative hammock style seat tailored to fit and support Zara without pressure around her amputation. Prototype  seats were initially fitted to static bikes for Zara to try out before testing on a trike, the only bike giving sufficient stability to make it safe for Zara to ride, could begin.

Back to the Future with Zara's Trike
Prototype 3 – Pump saddle


Back to the Future with Zara's Trike
Prototype 4 – Hammock saddle

How do we know the exact connection to a trike, and more importantly can check the interaction of the seat with the trike if we don’t have a trike?

That was where the DBF came in…

Back to the Future with Zara’s Trike

Check out the videos below to see how this inspiring challenge unfolded. You will also find links at the bottom of this page.

* To see the heartwarming video of Zara’s Trike journey, please click on the link *


Back to the Future with Zara's Trike
Zara meets her Trike
Back to the Future with Zara's Trike
The result!

DBF was so proud and delighted to have been able to play a part in this wonderful story. To have been a small part of such an inspired team that worked so determinedly  to create a solution that would enable Zara to regain the freedom to travel around her home town in safety and comfort, is what the Bader Grant Scheme is all about.

Links (will open in new tabs):

A Hero Arm is helping Lisa Millns

A Hero Arm is helping Lisa Millns to achieve her goals. We were delighted to be able to help Lisa in her bid to get a Hero Arm by providing her with a Bader Grant.

Lisa had suffered considerably because of bullying as a result of having limb difference, and had also developed repetitive strain injury in her other arm which had been overworking to compensate. We felt that having a functional prosthetic would help her with both issues.

It seems incredibly sad that bullying people because they are “different” continues in a supposedly more enlightened age, and we admire the fact that Lisa is determined to raise awareness of the traumatic effects of bullying in a bid to stop others suffering as she did.

We’re so happy that a Hero Arm is helping Lisa Millns to show the bullies what can be achieved by people with limb difference and other disabilities, and to enable her to pursue an active life free, or certainly freer, from the pain of repetitive strain injury.

It is wonderful to see the amazing developments in the field of prosthetics and to learn at first hand how they are changing people’s lives.


Mother beaten at school for not having an arm gets superhero bionic arm

“I don’t want people to look at me as if I’m contagious.” 

Last week, Lisa Millns, a mother from Coventry who was born without her left forearm, was fitted with a multi-grip bionic arm in a bid to help her heal from childhood bullying trauma.

Lisa was bullied physically and emotionally over her disability, she said: “I was put in a disabled box and felt like I was living but had no reason to be here. I was beaten at school and had stones thrown at me for having no arm.” 

The 34-year-old was overwhelmed at the support shown by the public when she successfully crowdfunded £10,000 for a Hero Arm from Bristol-based robotics company Open Bionics. 

Finding courage to battle through cruelty, Lisa vowed to prove bullies wrong: ‘I am now married with two children and I have just finished an MSc in Biomedical Science. I am now studying for a PGCE to become a Biology teacher.‘

While the world has been battling a global pandemic, Lisa was carrying the weight of her husband being diagnosed with Crohn’s and Colitis while adapting to the needs of her son’s autism. 

Taking on all the responsibility to prove bullies wrong has come at a cost. Lisa now suffers from a repetitive strain injury on her opposite arm from overcompensating activity to undertake daily tasks as the main carer for her household. She commented ‘the funny thing is people say to me ‘but you’ve adapted’, and yes, I have, but at what cost? I have to do daily activities in excruciating pain just so I can support my family.’

Open Bionics worked with Lisa to develop and build a custom-fit bionic arm and have it fitted at their new cutting-edge clinic based in Bristol, UK. The Hero Arm uses myoelectric sensors, which detect underlying muscular contractions generated from specific muscle groups in the arm. These are then amplified and converted into intuitive and proportional bionic hand movements.

Lisa commented on her experience at the Open Bionics Clinic as ‘life-changing…I can finally give my right hand the rest it needs and offset the load by wearing a prosthesis that will help me not only with my injury but with other dual-hand activities.’ 

Commenting on Lisa’s bionic journey, Samantha Payne MBE, COO at Open Bionics said: ‘We want our medical devices to enable individuals to reach their goals, and we hope the Hero Arm will help Lisa reach her goals without having to compromise her health.’

Open Bionics is on a mission to support individuals like Lisa to turn their disabilities into superpowers. The company uses innovative technologies such as 3D printing and 3D scanning to ensure each Hero Arm is custom-built and bespoke to the user. Upper limb amputees interested in getting a Hero Arm at the Clinic can register to book an appointment and view full pricing here: 


A Hero Arm is helping Lisa Millns

You can watch a video interview with Lisa by clicking on the link

Congratulations, Lisa, from all at the DBF. We’re delighted to have been able to support you and so proud of what you’ve achieved.


Onwards and Upwards into 2020 from Bader Grant Recipient, Para-Dressage Rider Richard Neumann

Richard Neumann reflects on 2019 and is positive about 2020

Another belated post with apologies to Richard Neumann. The same thinking applied as to Mari’s 2019 recap and, for the same reason, I’ve decided to publish it now and save the further good news that I feel sure will follow this year for the new website!

Wow as New Year’s Eve approaches maybe it’s time to reflect on the year. Where to start? The year started with great news after a bad 2018, we had the privilege of acquiring my new horse Otto, we spent the next three months getting a bit and saddle suitable for him, when we got him he had a few issues that needed to be dealt with.

When we had eventually sorted out the issue, I had surgery on a broken wrist that kept me out of action for four weeks, I returned to riding and working on the relationship we have, unfortunately I was then taken into hospital for the fourth and hopefully final operation from my injury, this kept me out for 9 weeks, on my return Otto decided the grass was greener on the other side and got his neck caught under a gate doing some muscle damage, this kept him out for 6 weeks.

At last I thought we can start to work his rehab was going ok when he cut his face playing in the field which required 12 stitches and 6 weeks rest, at last after this we could start working.

On the 1st of December we started our campaign for the summer championships we attained 60% of the points needed on our first outing, we were so pleased we could see real progress, only to be advised three days later that because some paperwork was not correct I would have those points stripped, that really epitomises my year full of incredible highs and massive lows.

What has this year taught me, I have an amazing horse with incredible potential, I know we can compete and win, and we have a blank canvass for 2020, I see 2020 as an amazing opportunity to achieve my dreams and aspirations.

Bring on 2020 and always see every situation as a potential opportunity.

(Richard Neumann, Bader Grant Recipient and Para-Dressage Rider)

Our thanks to Richard Neumann for his continued, thoroughly enjoyable updates, reports, videos and photographs. As you’ll see from the above, he and his lovely horse, Otto, have weathered their fair share of storms through 2019 and with this level of grit and determination we feel sure that 2020 bodes very well indeed. Keep watching this space!

BGRotM Sophie – April Update


Sophie, 4th from left at the Karen Betts Gift of Confidence Awards in April


Our current Bader Grant Recipient of the Month, Sophie Harris, has had a busy time lately and it looks as though, with an imminent trip to Italy with the GB Para squad and fellow development squad, things are going to get even busier.

We’re grateful to Sophie for sending us an update of her recent activities and achievements and delighted that she is doing so phenomenally well since her recent amputation. She is an inspiration to all.

Since she last posted, she has been visited by GB coaches from Caversham to oversee her local club, Dart Totnes, and her ongoing training. They saw her complete Ergo (indoor rowing machine) work followed by a Fine Double and then a Fine Single outing. For those, like me, not used to rowing terms, the Amateur Rowing Association supplies the following: “Most clubs will have a variety of boat classes and types and these can be quite mystifying to the new volunteer. The boats normally used for competition are described as ‘fine’. Your club may also have ‘playboats’ for beginners. Fine rowing boats range in size from a single scull (27ft), doubles/pairs (34ft), fours/quads (44ft), to eights/octuples (62 ft). They have to be stored carefully as they are expensive and can be easily damaged.

On Saturday 21st April, she also took part in the Women’s and the Mixed Quads in the Breakwater Bash, which is a coastal rowing race held at Mayflower Offshore Rowing Club.

Our BGRotM also had the well deserved accolade of being nominated for the Karen Betts Gift of Confidence, which was held in London at the Sanderson. There she met Katie Piper and Alex Lewis as well as the other three inspirational nominees.

Sophie, Back row 4th from left, with from left to right, Diana Armstrong, Tracy Dickinson, Alex Lewis, Karen Betts, Carly Barratt and Katie Piper
Sophie, Back row 4th from left, with from left to right, Diana Armstrong, Tracy Dickinson, Alex Lewis (front), Karen Betts, Carly Barratt and Katie Piper

I’ve overcome my amputation and I’ve been given my life back. I’m hopefully inspiring others that amputation isn’t all bad. You can have life afterwards.  Sophie Harris

A few tweaks carried out by Dorset Orthopaedic have helped Sophie with her new prosthetic rowing leg which should stand her in good stead for her forthcoming trip to Varese Italy with the GB Para Squad and Fellow Development Squad.

We’re delighted to have been able to feature Sophie as our latest Bader Grant Recipient of the Month and very grateful for her input and hope that she will continue to keep us updated as we’ve no doubt that with her determination and commitment she is going on to great things with her rowing career. We are proud to be associated with this inspirational woman and to have been able to support her on her journey with a Bader Grant.

If you’d like to apply for a Bader Grant to help you to achieve a personal goal, please use the link below to check out the information on our Bader Grant page where you’ll also find access to an application form.

Useful Links:

Manfit – Second User Profile: Bill’s Story

As you’ll know, our current Bader Grant Recipient of the Month, MANFIT (Manchester Amputee fitness Initiative) kindly agreed to send us personal stories of some of their users. We met Ron last month, now you can see how gym trainer, Bill Shone, became involved…

Bill Shone’s (our gym trainer) story

Here’s Bill Shone, Manfit’s gym trainer! He’s a great trainer and doesn’t allow me to interrupt him when he’s showing our lot the best exercises and machine positions!  Dr. Margaret Tyson MPHe

Manfit's gym trainer, Bill Shone
MANFIT’s gym trainer, Bill Shone

My name is Bill Shone, I’m a Personal Trainer and Strength/Conditioning Coach.  Margaret Tyson approached me through REPS (The Register of Exercise Professionals) to supervise the gym sessions as I have qualifications in adapting exercise for low to medium risk health conditions and in active ageing, both of which are relevant to the MANFIT group.

The Friday sessions are great to be involved in and there’s a really good atmosphere.  The group do quite a wide range of exercise, usually following a circuit including range of motion, cardiovascular and resistance exercises.  I do 1:1 work with several members of the group, largely focusing on functional exercises using stability balls, bands, light weights and medicine balls.  It’s great to see new exercises being tried and progressed over time.

I look forward to the MANFIT sessions on a Friday morning.  It’s always good to see new faces and I’d encourage anyone in the area to get involved with them.


We’re very grateful to Bill for sharing his story and look forward to meeting more of the MANFIT users in due course.

Manfit – First User Profile: Ron’s Story

Featured Bader Grant Recipient of the Month, MANFIT (Manchester Amputee Fitness Initiative), kindly promised to provide us with individual stories of some of their users and here you can meet our first candidate, Ron.

My name is Ron. I am 77 years old I had my left leg amputated above the knee at the age of 11 when I was hit on the knee by a cricket ball and developed a tumour. I still love the sport and as a teenager scored for my local team.

I left school at 15, went to work in a drawing office where my friends introduced me to golf and played for 25 years until my second child arrived and my time disappeared and when the third one arrived that was the end of golf.

As a family we all went swimming.

At 58 I retired from BT drawing office, it was nearly 10 years later when I joined MANFIT in June 2007. I have always enjoyed statistics and kept a record of all my visits. I have attended the gym 416 times. I have met some good friends over the years and sadly some no longer with us.

We meet and encourage each other and have a good laugh, the gym staff have been very helpful and the college staff welcoming, it’s a pleasure to go.

I also swim with a MANFIT group and have been 375 times to the Aquatic centre in Manchester.

All this has been arranged by Margaret Tyson who I would like to thank for all her hard work involved securing the outside funding.

I am in good health due to my activities and have a nice circle of friends.

We’re very grateful to Ron for sharing his story and delighted to hear that he’s doing so well and clearly enjoying all the facilities MANFIT offers. Keep checking in for more MANFIT user profiles…

Please click on the logo at the top of the post to visit MANFIT’s website where you can find out more about this great organisation.


Bader Grant Recipient, Jesse Dufton, back from gruelling expedition in Arctic Greenland

Bader Grant Recipient, Jesse Dufton, has returned safely from a very challenging expedition venturing into the unexplored areas of the remote Stauning Alps region in Central-Eastern Greenland. The expedition would be hard enough for anyone, and one can only imagine what a challenge it must have been for Jesse who is severely sight impaired. Jesse believes that he is now the first Visually Impaired climber to gain a first ascent in Arctic Greenland – an extraordinary achievement. 

Through telling my story I hope I can go on to inspire others to challenge themselves and go on to achieve great things, showing disability has no barriers. Jesse Dufton

You will be hearing more from Jesse who we are delighted to report has agreed to be our next Bader Grant Recipient of the Month. You will be treated to full reports; more stunning images of this extraordinary, pristine landscape; videos and more when Jesse’s stint will kick in towards the end of next month so this is to whet your appetite only for exciting things to come…Watch this space!

Read Jesse’s report from the Expedition Summary below:

The Stauning Alps Expedition Greenland 2017

Our route (from our GPS plots)
Our route (from our GPS plots)

The British Stauning Alps Expedition 2017 has returned from Greenland and we have had an incredibly successful trip!

I was awarded a grant by The Douglas Bader Foundation and I’m hugely thankful for their support.

Our expedition ventured into unexplored areas of the remote Stauning Alps region in Central-Eastern Greenland. The team were self-sufficient throughout, carrying all kit, food, shelter, scientific instrumentation and travelled on skis, pulling pulks. A huge physical challenge in an extremely remote environment.

Our original objectives were threefold:

(1) Explore – to venture into unexplored areas and claim first ascents on new peaks.

(2) Research – to repeat measurements taken during the 1970s and to install a network of ablation stakes in the Roslin Glacier to observe the impacts of climate change.

(3) Inspire – I am registered as blind/severely sight impaired and despite the difficulties some of us must face, I want to show and inspire people that great adventures can be undertaken, showing disability has no barriers.

(1) Our route involved skiing up the Roslin Glacier and down the Bjørnbo Glacier in a new circular route, approximately 100km in length. (This route had been attempted before, but never successfully completed.) It required the crossing of 2 high cols with full pulks. We ventured into places never explored before and travelled through pristine remote environments, dealing with freezing temperatures down to -28oC. We experienced heavy snow and artic storms while out in the field, our camp was buried in snow on several occasions! We successfully climbed 2 new peaks and claimed first ascents on these mountains from the Bjørnbo Glacier. Climbs were made in full alpine style.

(2) The expedition also successfully accomplished all the scientific goals which were set. A network of ten ablation stakes were installed on the Roslin Glacier. These stakes cover the length of the glacier from the snout, at 200m above sea level, up to the edge of the accumulation area, at 1700m above sea level. The stakes were placed at elevation intervals of approximately 200m, with additional stakes placed in a transect across the glacier in the approximate location of those measured during the 1970s. The stakes were drilled to a depth of 6m at lower elevations and 5m further up the glacier. This means that even at the lowest elevations the stakes should be expected to remain in place on the glacier for 2-3 years, providing a long window of opportunity for repeat measurements to be collected. Stake locations have already been passed to the World Glacier Monitoring Service and future measurements can be added to their records once they have been collected. In addition, snow depth and temperature profiles were collected from 14 snow pits covering the ablation area of the glacier. Snow depths ranged between 1.4 and 1.8m and the temperature and density profiles provide a valuable insight into the accumulation of snow on the glacier over the previous winter. Data from these snow pits will be collated and added to online inventories shortly.

(3) I took part in all aspects of the expedition and played a key role in the team – pulling more than my fair share of weight in the pulk(!), skiing, climbing, digging snow pits, drilling holes, setting up camp, but not the cooking, I w_a_s_n_’t_ _allowed near the stoves! I truly have had a fantastic adventure. It was brutally cold and physically challenging just to survive in that kind of environment for a month. To achieve all what we set out to do was such an amazing feeling and to be able to call myself an Arctic Explorer is pretty cool! I believe I am the first Visually Impaired climber to gain a first ascent in Arctic Greenland! Through telling my story I hope I can go on to inspire others to challenge themselves and to go on an achieve great things, showing disability has no barriers.

A huge thank you to the Douglas Bader Foundation for supporting me in my endeavours.

Jesse on the summit of the new peak
Jesse on the summit of the new peak

Thomas Making Giant Strides!

It was lovely to hear from Bader Grant recipient, Thomas, who has got in touch to tell us how he has put his grant to good use and is already making great strides on his Race Running Bike. Thomas clearly has the Bader spirit in spades and we are sure he’s going to go far in every way! Well done, Thomas.

We wanted to say a massive thank you to The Douglas Bader Foundation for the funding they have provided to our young son Thomas. Thomas has cerebral palsy and cannot walk very far independently. With funding from the Foundation, Thomas now has a wonderful Petra RaceRunning bike and has just broken 3 National age group records for Under 12’s in England with his new Racerunner. 
Thomas sends a message to everyone who supports this wonderful foundation:

Your support has made such a difference to my life. I would not be able to do what I do on the track without your kindness so I wanted again to say a big Thank you!

Thomas Talbot, Bader Grant Recipient

Here are a couple of photographs kindly sent in by his family of Thomas in action on his bike.

Thomas with racerunnerThomas with racerunner 2

Phil Oakley tackles the world’s deepest caves

We’re proud and delighted to publish the latest adventure from indomitable Bader Grant recipient, Phil Oakley. Phil, who possesses the Bader spirit in spades and personifies the motto: “…it’s what you can do that counts”

Phil apologised in his email that this adventure wasn’t as exotic as previous ones (which can be found by entering Phil Oakley into the Website Search Engines). However, reading this fascinating and personal article makes one acutely aware of the extra problems faced by amputees when undertaking sports such as caving even when as experienced as Phil. It also leaves you in no doubt as to the courage and determination required to complete these personal challenges. Many, many congratulations and much admiration to Phil for succeeding and I’ve no doubt that the “full” descent will be completed at some point in the future! From someone afraid of heights, this report was pretty gruelling for me and I was only reading it

Caving the World’s Deepest Caves – August 2014


Phil Oakley and companions before the caving trip
Phil Oakley and companions before the caving trip


My adventure this summer was caving in France. I have been caving and potholing for over 20 years before losing my foot. In the RAF I caved with the Combined Services Caving Association (CSCA) who every 10 years organise a major expedition to the Gouffre Berger in the Vercors, France. Discovered in 1950, it was the first cave to pass 1000m deep and contains some of the largest and best cave formations in the world. At 1123m deep, it is still one of the world’s deepest caves and is one of the classic cave trips.   I went to the bottom in 2004 (pre-amputation) so I knew how hard and technical it was. Caving with one foot is not easy as I have discovered. Being throw off-balance is a major problem, as is wading through waste deep water which makes my prosthetic slowly slip off. I also need to be particularly careful when near vertical drops especially when not on a rope as balance is now that bit more difficult. Overcoming and adapting to new situations is a must when disabled and with every cave trip I learn something new. But, having a major problem at 1000m below the surface is not to be taken lightly, especially in a cave that is prone to flooding and in a region known for flash thunderstorms. With only six caving trips since amputation I hadn’t learnt enough about possible problems; also, I wasn’t cave fit.  This time I decided just to go to ‘Camp 1’ at 500m below ground.


On a pitch
On a pitch

On the vertical drops (or pitches), the method of SRT (single rope technique) is used. To get on and off the rope I found myself straddling across pitches of 40m. With all my weight (uncomfortably) pressing into the socket, while keeping in balance and while connecting into the rope, required all my concentration. Fitness and agility was required to swing out into the open shafts. I always felt my prosthetic was slipping off while dangling on the rope as it hung from my stump without support and the build-up of sweat meant it was becoming less secure each passing hour.

Drying the sweat
Drying the sweat


Going up the rope was especially hard as most of the power now comes from my good leg and arms. One of the most unnerving parts was in the ‘Meanders’ section where for about 40 minutes I was straddling across a rift with drops below of up to 20m with nothing but my feet and bum in contact with the rock to hold me in place. When one foot does not always make good contact with the rock, your mind is very focused on getting the other points of contact right.

In the Meanders
In the Meanders


Some formations in the Cave of Thirteen
Some formations in the Hall of Thirteen

After 9 hours of hard caving I was back on the surface – with my two other companions. But this is not the end of this trip: There is still an hour walk back – up hill – to the car park.   I was pleased I did this trip to Camp 1 and back. My apprehension about going into one of the most hostile environments for adventure sport does help push my mental strength to new boundaries. Once on the surface, I did feel ‘if only’? Maybe I should have pushed myself to go to the bottom? But it’s always there to be done again – in 10 years time?

Phil and companions successfully back on the surface
Phil and companions back on the surface after their successful descent


Phil Oakley



* If you’ve been inspired by Phil’s adventures and would like to apply for a Bader Grant to help you to pursue your personal goals  you can find out more by visiting the dedicated page by clicking HERE