Former eventer Claire Lomas paints own disabled parking sign

  • Former event rider Claire Lomas has told H&H she hopes her actions of painting her own disabled parking sign will prompt councils into taking faster action in future.

    Claire, from Melton Mowbray, was forced to paint her own parking bay outside her daughter’s school last week, after Leicestershire County Council took too long.

    Claire was paralysed from the chest down in a fall in 2007. She was unable to park close enough to Great Dalby school to drop off four-year-old Maisie.

    “When Maisie got her school place in April I contacted the council about a disabled parking bay,” Claire told H&H.

    “The roads are chokka in the village and I knew I needed somewhere I could park so I could drop her off and pick her up safely.”

    Claire applied for the disabled parking space, and it was approved. The school also contacted the council.

    However, five months later, nothing had been done.

    “The first couple of days at school were fine,” Claire said. “But on the third day I couldn’t get anywhere near so I had to drop her off at the top of the road and she was walked down by another mum, which isn’t ideal when she’s trying to settle in. The beginning of school is so important. ”

    Claire decided to take action into her own hands, and paint the sign herself.

    I was fed up of waiting. Maisie chose a pink paint and a friend made a template, so I spray painted it,” said Claire.

    “24 hours later, the council came and made it official. It made them get their act together.

    The act generated national media coverage.

    “I hope it makes other councils take notice and work more quickly,” she added. “If you’re in a wheelchair you need somewhere easily accessible.”

    Leicestershire County Council has since apologised to Claire.

    “We would like to apologise for the delay in painting this disabled bay and the inconvenience this has caused Claire and Maisie during the first weeks of the school term,” said a spokesman for Leicestershire County Council.

    Claire also hopes to hit the half a million mark in her fundraising this year.

    Claire was injured in a fall at Osberton in 2007. Since then she has completed several challenges including walking the London Marathon in a special robot suit, and a hand-cycle around England.

    Her next fundraiser is a “Boarding Bedlam” surfboaring challenge on 14 November in Leicester where hunts, eventers, showjumpers, vets and farriers will go up against each other.

    The money raised goes to the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation, helping to fund research into curing paralysis.

    She also has an online auction running this month, which closes on 27 September and features items including a Carl Hester yard visit and a lesson with Olympic eventer Nicola Wilson. Proceeds will go to the Nicholls Spinal Foundation and a charity to be chosen by eventer Ben Hobday, who is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.

    For more information visit: www.claireschallenge.co.uk

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