Fraser Bathgate, the Edinburgh-based Ambassador for MAGIC (Mobility and General Information Centre), Ford’s free telephone information service for disabled and mature drivers, has presented a delighted 83-year-old ex World War II Merchant Navy man with his brand new Ford Focus today ( 23 June, 2003 ).
Bill Short, believed to be one of the UK’s oldest Motability Scheme customers, was a junior officer onboard the merchant vessel SS Induna, when it was sunk by a U-boat in the Barents Sea in March 1942. Together with 16 others, the Dunfermline man drifted for four days in a waterlogged lifeboat, battling 40ft waves and sub zero temperatures, before eventually being rescued by a Russian minesweeper. Surgeons in the Russian seaport of Murmansk had to amputate both of Bill’s gangrenous legs to save his life, doing so without the aid of general anaesthetic because of a lack of medical supplies.
After the war, Bill spent 35 years working as a Design Draughtsman for the Ministry of Defence, getting about using a number of different prosthetic limbs. So being mobile has always been very important to him.
He said: "In 1946 I received a Ford Anglia from the Ministry of Pensions and have been driving Ford vehicles even since. I suppose that must make me one of their oldest customers. Having a service like MAGIC that I can call free whenever I need information is very helpful and particularly important for people with disabilities."
Presenting Mr Short with the keys to his new vehicle at the Dunfermline Auto Centre, MAGIC Ambassador Fraser Bathgate said: "On behalf of MAGIC, I’m delighted to present Bill with his new Focus, which I hope will give him many more years of driving pleasure."
MAGIC was set up to provide free information on driving with a disability to all disabled people in the UK, regardless of what make of car they drive or want to drive. To date, over 275,000 people have contacted MAGIC requesting information about a wide range of topics including:
- The Motability Scheme
- Where to get current information on disability benefit entitlements
- Mobility assessment centres
- Vehicle adaptation companies
- Ford dealers, specialist holiday companies, Ford vehicles and comparative data on other manufacturers' models