Gosport man gets his skates on for 300-mile trip

ROLL WITH IT Steven Rittey, centre, with fellow skater Andrew Yunge George and Olympic volunteers

ROLL WITH IT Steven Rittey, centre, with fellow skater Andrew Yunge George and Olympic volunteers

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PUSHING a wheelchair while rollerblading from Paris to London sounds like a feat of Olympic proportions.

But that’s what a Gosport man did to raise awareness of the need for better access for wheelchair users.

Steven Rittey was one of 35 skaters who travelled more than 300 miles on a journey from France.

It took him five days and ended at the Olympic stadium in London, where the Paralympic games are currently taking place.

Steven, a keen skater, signed up to highlight how difficult life can be for wheelchair users and other people who use wheels, such as parents with pushchairs.

The 29-year-old, of St Faith’s Close, said: ‘Arriving in London was one of the best moments of my life.

‘We were proud to have taken part in a unique event.

‘We really pushed ourselves physically to complete the challenge.

‘Everyone worked so hard and the reaction of people along the route was very supportive.

‘Most had never pushed wheelchairs on skates before and to skate the distance required five weeks of intensive training.

‘The aim was to raise awareness of disabled access with the idea that if you cannot skate on a surface it is unlikely you will be able to use a wheelchair on it.’

The event was organised by a French charity called Mobile en Ville.

Steven was one of only three English skaters taking part.

The rest were either French or Belgian.

They all took it in turns to push people in wheelchairs along the route.

Wheelchair users were given lighter hiking chairs to make them easier to push.

Their journey took them along the Avenue Verte to Gisors and Dieppe, and then to London through Newhaven.

They were followed through France by a French television crew and police officers on rollerblades who helped stopped the traffic in central Paris.

The skaters also joined forces with a London skating group when they arrived in the capital.

They finished at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday after setting off from Paris on August 29.

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