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'It was eye opening' - First time wheelchair user tests Norwich

PUBLISHED: 09:38 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:53 23 August 2019

The cobbled streets that are famous in Norwich are difficult for wheelchair users. Picture: Katrina Mousley

The cobbled streets that are famous in Norwich are difficult for wheelchair users. Picture: Katrina Mousley

Archant

A mother-of-two has described her first experience of using a wheelchair in Norwich as "eye-opening".

Katrina Mousley with her husband and two daughters. Picture: Katrina MousleyKatrina Mousley with her husband and two daughters. Picture: Katrina Mousley

Katrina Mousley, a languages teacher from Salthouse, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and underwent a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery.

The surgery, which lifted stomach tissue, left her unable to walk and she said a friend suggested a wheelchair "to stop me getting cabin fever".

The 40-year-old said: "I had never used or even sat in a wheelchair, not even to try one out. I don't think I had even pushed one, or knew anyone who used one."

Katrina Mousley noticed bad fashion the first time she used a wheelchair. Picture: Katrina MousleyKatrina Mousley noticed bad fashion the first time she used a wheelchair. Picture: Katrina Mousley

And shortly after getting the wheelchair, Mrs Mousley went to Norwich and said she found the experience unforgettable.

She said: "It's very strange first of all - dustbins are suddenly at nose level, the children even louder at ear level and fashion faux pas are at eye level."

And she quickly found access difficulties that wheelchair users experience every day.

Katrina Mousley praised Primark for its ease as a wheelchair user. Picture: Katrina MousleyKatrina Mousley praised Primark for its ease as a wheelchair user. Picture: Katrina Mousley

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Her trip started at St Andrew's Street, where she found the steep slope toward Exchange Street difficult to navigate.

She added: "Then there's the cobbles and the drains which are very uncomfortable and were shaking my hip, and under my breast incisions, to the core."

Haymarket and Rampant Horse Street also proved confusing, as it wasn't clear to Mrs Mousley where the steps started and ended.

She said: "It looks like drop kerbs but they have a slight lip which threatened to catapult me out of the chair at one point and face first onto the concrete.

"It may have been more sensible to buckle in, but with my daughters pushing me, I wanted to be prepared for anything - including a quick exit from the wheelchair in case of an emergency."

But Mrs Mousley did praise Primark on St Stephens Street, calling it the best possible shop for wheelchairs because of their polished floors.

Overall, Mrs Mousley said that Norwich was relatively wheelchair-friendly but had room for improvement.

She added: "I challenge anyone to try a wheelchair for a day, it certainly leaves you with even more consideration for users and their carers."

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