Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire siblings honour grandfather's 1986 wheelchair feat

Percivals Image copyright PERCIVAL FAMILY
Image caption The four siblings will set off on The Percival Push to Amsterdam on 13 April

Four siblings are preparing for a 130-mile wheelchair push - 34 years after their grandad completed the same feat.

David Percival, 72, made the trip via roads and the North Sea from Sawston in Cambridgeshire to Amsterdam with three fellow wheelchair users in 1986.

Now his grandchildren will repeat the challenge - called The Percival Push - as a tribute to his endeavours.

His grandson Paul, 28, told the BBC: "This foolishness is in our blood. It's a Percival trait."

Mr Percival has used a wheelchair for more than 50 years after a motorcycle crash at the age of 17.

Image copyright PERCIVAL FAMILY
Image caption Ivan Newman, Graham Smith, David Percival and Robert Hartwell prepare for the trip from Sawston in 1986
Image copyright PERCIVAL FAMILY
Image caption The intrepid foursome during the Percival Push in 1986

Since then, his family said, he has carried out "ridiculous challenges" to open up wheelchair access routes, including "insane" treks across Scottish mountains and the North Yorkshire moors.

However, David's journey to Amsterdam in 1986 was "possibly his hardest one", Paul said.

"We are going to set out to recreate that challenge as faithfully as possible, on the closest route that we can manage over the course of five days," he added.

Image copyright PERCIVAL FAMILY
Image caption David Percival and his team take a breather on the ferry to the Hook of Holland in 1986

The siblings - who are not wheelchair users - will raise money for the Arthur Rank Hospice and Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis.

The charities are close to their grandad's heart.

'Impressive and inspiring'

They said the training made them realise the everyday challenges wheelchair users faced.

"It's surprisingly hard to get around in a wheelchair, there are a lot of obstacles that you don't expect," Paul said.

"Suddenly you get a new affinity for the pavement and how 'unflat' it is. He has never once asked us to slow down for him.

"We never realised the effort it takes to keep up - that's been really impressive and inspiring."

Planning the journey by road, Paul added: "I wish he'd taken a straighter route - it wiggles here, there and everywhere down the country to Harwich."

Image copyright PERCIVAL FAMILY
Image caption David Percival said he is "very proud" of his four grandchildren

Mr Percival added: "I'm very proud of all of it.

"I'm used to it - our arms are built to push that way but it's been a learning curve for them. I cannot believe the effort they are putting into it and their commitment."

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