'It's like someone has taken a piece of my body away' - disabled woman left devastated after van and wheelchair is stolen overnight
PUBLISHED: 17:08 05 September 2016 | UPDATED: 17:08 05 September 2016
A Cambridgeshire woman says she feels as though "someone has taken a piece of my body away" after her £8,500 personally-adapted van and wheelchair was stolen in Wisbech.
Rachel Mitton woke up on Friday morning to find that her silver Mercedes Sprinter had disappeared overnight from outside her boyfriend’s house in Elm Road.
Rachel, who suffers from severe fibromyalgia, arthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and fatigue, says she is “devastated and desperate for help.
“I’m just absolutely lost. I can’t even go to the toilet,” she said.
“It’s not just a car stolen - it is my independence, my ability to leave my village, the ability to move around my home.
“I am beyond distraught and desperate to have them back.”
Rachel, who lives in Sawston and has been wheelchair bound for the past decade, used the Sprinter and wheelchair to enable her passion for live music to continue.
“The wheelchair was built so that I could travel to Glastonbury and other festivals – now it’s gone,” she added.
As a volunteer worker for Attitude Is Everything, Rachel works to help improve disabled access at gig venues and festivals.
“It’s destroyed me. It’s like someone has taken a piece of my body away.
“This was the first wheelchair I ever felt safe and strong in. It gave me independence, but now I’m back to being dependant on anybody and everybody.”
The “one of a kind” wheelchair, which fits into the driver’s seat, is easily identifiable because it has wings on the back of it.
The Sprinter itself is silver, has blackened windows and ramp access at the rear inside - Rachel has been using it for the last six years and the vehicle’s registration is LT10 NVH.
“It’s almost like they have taken it for a purpose, to sell it online maybe,” Rachel added. They must have known what they were doing.
“My boyfriend is devastated about it. He’s doing everything he can to try and support me because I’m now in such a vulnerable situation.”
Since last week’s incident Rachel’s sister has set up a JustGiving page to raise funds for a new van and wheelchair. So far £750 has been raised – however £8,500 is needed.
Rah Petherbridge, Rachel’s sister, said: “She relies on it for everything.
“Since having her chair she has been able to begin volunteer work and go out to music events.
“Rachel is a sparkly, outgoing soul and thrives on socialising with friends.
“A new wheelchair will cost eight and a half thousand pounds. Rachel is housebound and isolated without her chair.
“The insurance she has through Motability is with Royal Sun Alliance and they won’t insure the contents including the wheelchair.
“This is such an awful and depressing situation for her. I hope we can help to get Rachel back on the road.”
Rachel said the support from strangers as well as friends and family has been “wonderful” after such a “disheartening” incident.
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/rachelneedsachair