Thursday, January 9, 2014
A disabled teenager who appealed for sponsors to help him learn to drive has “been given the keys to freedom” after strangers donated £4,611 to get him on the road.
Daniel Gotts, who lives in Whinburgh, near Dereham, is 17 – but at 4ft 5in he cannot learn to drive like his friends because he suffers from a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia.
To get his L-plates Daniel was told he needed special adaptations to a car, including a raised footwell, extended pedals, cushions to support his spine and neck as well as a boot strap.
But because of a change in the law Daniel was told he does not qualify for high level mobility funding and the family must find the cash themselves.
After an appeal in this newspaper 12 people contacted Daniel’s mum and dad Susan and Chris to pledge their support and donate to the fund.
The money helped to buy a car as well as paying for the car changes – and Daniel says he cannot believe the generosity.
“It’s brilliant. It’s going to allow me to experience the freedom of a teenager,” he said.
“Just like other people who go out an see their friends or have the independence to drive to work.
“The money has been greatly used – it has given me the keys to freedom.
“The car and the adaptions wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for all of those people.”
Once he passes his test, Daniel will be able to drive to Easton College, where he studies animal management, as well as to his voluntary job at Cats Protection in Longham.
Even walking to get a bus is not an option because Daniel can walk just 200 metres and the closest stop is in the next village of Yaxham, a mile away.
His parents Susan and Chris took the lack of government funding through the courts but were told because their eldest son can walk, he does not qualify for the level of disability benefit which would supply him with a modified car.
Anyone who is judged to have the ability to move more than 50 metres is ineligible for mobility benefit, unless they also have problems with planning and following journeys.
But Mrs Gotts, who works part-time as a negotiator for an estate agents, said she has been overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers to help find a solution.
She said there was still stigma against people with dwarfism – and that Daniel struggled to find teenage clothes to fit him.