A specially shaped riding hat has enabled an autistic boy from Brighton to have had his first riding lesson last week (25 February).
Tommy Lee was presented with his new bespoke hat at Three Greys Riding School in Brighton, where his school has lessons.
The 16-year-old schoolboy’s unique head shape had prevented him from wearing a traditional riding helmet.
The Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) developed the bespoke hat using high tech equipment.
CIC is a joint project between children’s charity Cerebra and a team of designers from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).
“We knew that the basic principle of a helmet is quite simple but the journey to get to a safe and useable helmet was quite complex,” said Dr Ross Head, CIC’s product design manager.
In conjunction with the MSc Industrial Design course at UWTSD, Swansea the team used a 3D digital scanner to scan in Tommy’s head shape.
The exact head shape was drawn using the data in the computer aided design software and the final model sent to a manufacturer to make.
The project was made possible by a generous donation of £2,200 from Gordon Coventry, whose family set up the charity Claire’s Project.
“Watching Sophie Christiansen take part in the 2012 Paralympics dressage competition was inspiring. Her face when she claimed gold was pure happiness,” said Mr Coventry.
“There was a similar look on the face of a young boy on the surfboard designed by CIC. I was happy to support Cerebra to enable other children take part in activities they haven’t previously been able to access.”
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The BSI agreed to fund the cost of testing the helmet against the BSI Kitemark scheme.
“I am absolutely thrilled that Tommy Lee is finally getting the opportunity to ride as a result of this project. He has been so keen to get on a horse and this is his chance. This will vitalise his independence,” said Tim Schvetz, Tommy’s teacher at the Cedar Centre in Brighton.