Martyn Sibley
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Martyn Sibley is a passionate disability campaigner, who is dedicated to inspiring, informing and changing the world around disability issues. Although he requires support with all aspects of daily life, he lives independently, drives a car, runs his own business and has undertaken trips to Australia, America and many parts of Europe. Martyn's day-to-day life consists of surmounting hurdles that non-disabled people do not encounter. Whether crossing the road, accessing public transport or overcoming stereotypes; there are always additional challenges to overcome. Martyn is undertaking a Britain’s Personal Best Challenge this year raising funds for his favourite charity Scope, riding the length of Great Britain from John o’Groat’s to Land’s End in his wheelchair. Follow his progress at www.whatsyours.org and www.martynsibley.com

Entries by Martyn Sibley

Whatever Will Be, Will Be

(0) Comments | Posted 29 June 2014 | (10:03)

On Friday Kasia and I packed up and left what has been our Spanish home for the past 3 months. Other world travellers will know that every journey has a new significance. L'Ametlla de Mar in the Catalan was certainly no different for me.

Getting here was years...

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San Juan: Sparklers, Fireworks and Bonfires

(0) Comments | Posted 24 June 2014 | (23:02)

On Monday 23rd June 2014, Kasia and I attended an amazing beach party. If I hadn't have seen the posters before hand or the dutiful bonfire on the beach, I'd have thought we were amongst a war zone!

It all started last week. Kasia was visiting a friend...

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Accessible Tourism and the European Union

(0) Comments | Posted 20 June 2014 | (01:55)

On Friday 6th June 2024, the European Commission and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) organised a conference on Accessible Tourism. It was called 'Mind the Accessibility gap' and was held in Brussels. It followed the completion of 3 European wide studies on:

1) the...

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Driving Dreams

(0) Comments | Posted 8 June 2014 | (15:22)

When I was a teenager I had youthful exuberance and disability demons in abundance. Quite a weird combination. So much of me wanted to see the world and change it at the same time. However having Spinal Muscular Atrophy meant feeling it was all impossible for poor little me.

Being able to drive is an important part of life for most people. From shopping to socialising, and employment to exploring; having wheels is cool. How on earth could someone with no leg movement, weak arms and bad balance dream of driving?

Fortunately my family and friends always encouraged the positives and found solutions. I was pushed into contacting Motability, attended their assessment centre and even test drove a car. I struggled with the type of controls on the day, but was promised that with the right adaptions I would be perfectly able to drive. Amazing!

I was scared, excited and surprised all in one go. The apprehension of driving past by quickly, but I was more scared of what such a contraption would cost. It was very hi-tech! This was 13 years ago and funding support was more difficult to obtain than it is today through the Motability Charity. Again, my closest people pulled through for me and arranged fundraising events in our local community.

Two years later, aged 19, we did it. I had the money and was ready to get independent...

After another year of reassessments, fittings and tweaks; my car was ready. January 2004, my second year in university, and the dream had come true.

I had a green Mercedes Sprinter. A bit larger than I'd anticipated, but necessary for my needs. I used a remote control for a rear-access lift, drove my wheelchair inside, clamped it in automatically, and drove using all sorts of hand controls. Simply put, I steer with a computerised handle bar, accelerate/brake with my thumbs, have a beeper switch with 9 functions (such as indicators, wipers and horn) and various other modifications for windows, heating and the radio.

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Learning to drive had its own stories, especially involving the slightly strange instructor. Then on taking my test the examiner was more frightened than I was when he saw the vehicle setup. But I calmed him down, we circled Coventry ring road and football stadium successfully. I passed with only 2 minor faults.

It was life changing. I had a driving licence, independence and freedom; all in one moment.

Since then I've driven thousands of miles. I've repaid my parents with lifts, visited friends at the cinema and in restaurants, done the family shop, commuted to work lots of times, attended a festival in Scotland, a holiday in Wales and driven around Europe.

I'm not going to try and curse myself, but I'd say I've executed my journeys safely. Although I have had a heavy thumb and received a couple of speeding tickets. I've also been stung too many times by parking attendants. Evilness.

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The technology itself has been unreliable and problematic at times. Motability cover all insurance, servicing and breakdown. Therefore it's not hit me financially. However I've met the RAC a few too many times. Plus the companies adapting the cars, like in the wheelchair market, aren't always so 'customer focused', especially after sales.

Luckily I met Andy Kent from Andys Kars 7 years ago. He's a mechanic based near my parents house. He bailed me out when I broke down on Christmas Eve, and the usual suspects couldn't help. He's an expert with adaptions and cars in general. I'd recommend contacting him if you're unsure of anything about adaptions.

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As you can see at the top, my current car is a Kia Sedona. It has a side entrance, easier to park, but hard to manoeuvre my wheelchair inside. I'm going through the process of getting a new vehicle now because it's enforced every 5 years by Motability. Stay tuned for my new blue VW Transporter.

I don't have to spell out any more clearly how possible, powerful and important driving is for me. If you're disabled and interested in driving too, just do it. There's a whole world out there. You'll never look back, I promise.

Martyn Sibley

Tweets @martynsibley
World Changer @ www.martynsibley.com
Co Founder @ www.disabilityhorizons.com
Social Media Man @ sma.sunnierdays.co.uk
Healthy Goodness @

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Knowing Your Value and Believing In It

(0) Comments | Posted 12 May 2014 | (20:02)

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In my last written post I discussed how to increase your creativity by reducing money worries. I now want to share some thoughts on simply increasing your income. The main reason being that homelessness and starvation aren't good for your creativity either!

...
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May Day 'MangaTuna' Festival

(0) Comments | Posted 7 May 2014 | (01:13)

During the recent UK bank holiday weekend, I've been experiencing a very new Spanish cultural education. I knew from my time in Asturias that they also celebrated this weekend. I didn't know that L'Ametlla de Mar would be so different.

Our first awareness of the 'MangaTuna' festival was when we...

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Shedding Money Worries and Unleashing Your Creative Beast

(0) Comments | Posted 3 May 2014 | (20:27)

Unless you don't follow me on social media or you live in a cave, you'll know that I'm staying in Spain for a few weeks. Beyond the sun, sea, culture, language and everything else I love about this country; it has also marked some very significant aspects of my life.

...
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#DisabledAcheivers: The Importance of Help and Support

(0) Comments | Posted 28 April 2014 | (07:59)

The recent tragic deaths of three disabled children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, who were allegedly murdered by their mother has rocked the disabled community around the world.

As co-editor of Disability Horizons, I share this video blog discussing the wider issues that the tragic case brings up and the Disability...

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Living La Dreamy Vida

(0) Comments | Posted 21 April 2014 | (13:18)

Over the Easter weekend most people were enjoying great moments and chocolate with their family. Having gone through education to Masters level, and worked in London for the disability charity Scope; I spent the weekend living a lifelong dream of mine. I enjoyed this Easter weekend with my beautiful Kasia...

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Travelling With a Disability

(0) Comments | Posted 9 April 2014 | (10:28)

To visit an uncharted territory and experience new things, I honestly think enriches us in so many ways. Whilst some people find excuses not to venture far (whether disabled or not), others seek adrenaline and greater personal growth. Whilst we're all different and entitled to our individual preferences; here's my...

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Always Freedom Fighting

(0) Comments | Posted 6 April 2014 | (22:14)

Being a disabled person can be so exhausting. Even just to get out of bed we have to prove the case for necessary funding, equipment, facilities (accessible housing) and manage a team of people. All before breakfast!

By lunchtime we hear how government policy is regressing. The ILF...

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Japan: A Life Changing Visit

(0) Comments | Posted 3 April 2014 | (21:59)

Only three weeks ago I was still in Japan. Everyday since I have relived another amazing moment. In my previous blog I highlighted my views on accessible tourism and my personal experiences.

This article will share my life changing professional development on this amazing trip.

The reason I...

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Hiroshima Homestay: A Very Personal Experience

(0) Comments | Posted 24 March 2014 | (16:10)

Following my quick blog on day 3 of the trip, and the video from the Sensoji temple with Haruka; so much has happened! In my next post I'll outline the professional development I gained from the Japanese governments programme. Here I want to bring you up...

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Greetings From the Land of the Rising Sun

(0) Comments | Posted 1 March 2014 | (01:39)

After the grueling flight, we got to our Tokyo hotel with ourselves and the wheelchair etc intact. After checking in at 2pm Japan time (and missed a nights sleep while flying), we planned to have a short nap, go out for dinner and climatise to our new time zone. Instead,...

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The Tube and Disability

(0) Comments | Posted 26 February 2014 | (18:51)

The recent London tube strikes left me lost for words. I watched and felt concerned by the frenzy such an incident could cause. However, I was more concerned how a large group of people have their lives disrupted, and are segregated from the normality everyday, but without any...

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Accessing Center Parcs

(0) Comments | Posted 21 February 2014 | (17:42)

Around a fortnight ago I was lucky enough to be invited by Center Parcs to review their accessibility features. Having been there when I was 8 years old, I was interested how it had changed and how it would pan out as a disabled adult.

I was first struck by...

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When Times Get Rough You Must Stay Tough

(0) Comments | Posted 8 February 2014 | (08:22)

I've been wanting to write all week and have been chasing my tail everyday. Before I head out the door to Elveden, Center Parcs to do an access review for Disability Horizons; here's a quick check in.

I feel there's such a duality with my life right now. Being self...

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Disability and Shopping

(0) Comments | Posted 16 January 2014 | (09:12)

Earlier this week I read an article on disability and shopping. It explained how a survey by the Muscular Dystrophy Trailblazers showed that many disabled people are unable to shop on our high streets.

Now, we all like a little shopping spree, disabled or not. Whether...

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New Year: Accessible Top Tips

(0) Comments | Posted 29 December 2013 | (19:33)

I have a love hate relationship with New Years Eve. As a kid it was an anticlimax after Christmas when the adults seemed to have more fun. As a teenager our family and friends hired a local hall and DJ enabling an inclusive party. In my early 20's I hit...

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Social Care

(0) Comments | Posted 19 December 2013 | (10:54)

My disability has been with me since my birth. There's a lot of things I can't do for myself. However I have always ensured that it never defined me. After all, my identity is about far more than just some things I can't do physically. I generally like to ensure...

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