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Derbyshire firm Lubrizol steps in to help Remap give Boccia Player Rachel a shot at Paralympic glory

L-R: Tom Grazier, Vice-Chairman of Lubrizol’s Charities and Community Committee, Boccia Player Rachel Ross and Paul Gillians, who volunteers for the charity Remap and whose invention – a rack made from a piece of plastic guttering and an old kitchen cupboard door – is helping Rachel to realise her goal of playing Boccia for Great Britain

Volunteers who spend their spare time making aids for people will disabilities have been given a boost after their charity was handed £500 by a Belper firm.

The Derby, Burton and District panel of the charity Remap says it will be able to make a further 15 products over the next year following the donation from Lubrizol, based in Hazelwood.

It is the third consecutive year that Belper-based Lubrizol has given money to Remap as part of its community and charities programme in recognition of the way in which the charity uses engineering and science to make a difference to other people’s lives.

This year, Remap has helped Rachel Ross, who plays boccia, which is a sport specially designed for athletes with severe physical difficulties, who compete by rolling leather balls across a court in a bid to get it as close to a smaller ball, called a jack, as possible.

Rachel, 31, who lives in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, has represented England at the sport but took a break from the game to concentrate on her university studies.

When she returned to the game – she plays with Nottinghamshire Boccia Club and trains once a month with the Sheffield Knights – she faced a problem, because her electric wheelchair had nowhere she could store each ball ahead of each throw.

Boccia rulers prohibit competitors from being handed balls by an assistant and although adaptations are available for wheelchair users, they were too expensive, so Rachel turned to Remap.

Answering her call for help was volunteer Paul Gillians, who lives in Ripley and devised a rack made from plastic guttering and a piece of kitchen cupboard door, which he has fixed onto the right handle of Rachel’s chair. Not only has it made all the difference to Rachel’s playing experience, she is now compliant with official boccia rules.

She said: “I couldn’t afford to buy a disability attachment and yet mine works perfectly well and hasn’t cost me anything, and all thanks to Remap.

“I really enjoy boccia. There are so many sports out there that I can’t do, so to find one that someone like me, who has a severe disability, can do gives me something to aim for and since it’s a Paralympic sport, there is a clear ladder that I can climb.

“I hadn’t heard about Remap before but what they have done for me is fantastic. I started playing boccia for fun and there is a real social side to it, but I’m hoping to take it more seriously to see if I can represent Great Britain one day, maybe even at the Paralympics in 2024.

“I’m determined to do it, but I couldn’t get anywhere near where I want to go without Paul’s device so I’m really grateful to him.”

Paul was a chartered mechanical engineer by trade and has worked for Remap for a number of years.

He said: “Sometimes it’s the most simple things in life that are the most effective and I get a real sense of satisfaction finding ways to help people who are struggling with their mobility to live more independent ways.

“Rachel’s rack is a very simple device and we had to make a few adjustments, but I am very pleased with the way it has turned out and I’m delighted that it is enabling her to participate fully in boccia again.”

Tom Grazier, vice-chairman of Lubrizol’s Charities and Community Committee, said: “We have supported Remap for a number of years and are very proud that our donations help volunteers such as Paul make a difference to people like Rachel.

“We work with a number of charities through our have a community support programme but, as a company which works in the fields of science and engineering, it’s extremely rewarding to know how the application of technology and a bit of know-how can have such a positive effect.”