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OAPs on road again thanks to adapted car.

Byline: Mike Lockley Staff Reporter

FORMER army captain Brian Harbourne and his disabled wife Gwen can now visit ex-military pals - after a unique, wheelchair friendly car was built for them.

The Sutton Coldfield pensioners' vehicle was crafted from a Fiat Qubo by Wednesbury motor conversion company Sirus Automotive. It allows wheelchair users to travel upfront, either as driver or passenger.

Gwen, aged 78, said: "Having the ability to travel in a car, or indeed drive myself, without tackling awkward transfers out of my electric wheelchair was a breakthrough for us.

"The fact that recently we have been able to see our close friends, who are two-and-half hours away in Oxfordshire, has been absolutely priceless. Without the comfort and practicality of this car, our lifestyle and happiness would have been seriously affected."

The couple have led highly active lives since meeting in 1951 when Gwen was only 15. Gwen was already involved in pre-nurse training, while Brian, now 81, was attending Newbury Grammar School.

Gwen went on to qualify as a nurse and married Brian in 1956. That same year Brian joined The Royal Army Pay Corp as a National Serviceman and was attached to a tank regiment, ultimately achieving the rank of captain.

They lived and worked in military bases abroad, including Germany for several years, which is where they met their longstanding friends Ken and Betty.

Simon Pearson, Sirus Automotive joint managing director, said: "Gwen and Brian are a delightful couple and we are so proud to have helped them retain independence and happiness. "Hearing that they can now visit their friends once more, thanks to our vehicle, is a typical example of what we do here at Sirus.

"We are very proud of our Midlands manufacturing heritage and will always be passionately committed to delivering access for all.

"The Switch wheelchair accessible car that the Harbournes own is proving so popular with other couples thanks to its affordability and flexibility."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 29, 2014
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