16-year-old Thomas Talbot from Lincolnshire has been using equipment from Quest, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of therapy, rehabilitation and adaptive cycling equipment since the age of four to help him remain as independent as possible despite his Cerebral Palsy.
The Talbot family first met Rob Henshaw, Quest’s Managing Director shortly after moving to Shropshire when Thomas’s physio at the time was working with him to improve his movement and help him to walk and recommended to his parents that he try a Kaye Walker.
By pure coincidence, the Kaye Walker is manufactured by Quest who were and still are based in Shropshire close to where the Talbot family were living at that time.
Thomas’s mother Ali said: “We had never heard of a Kaye Walker, so we went to Shrewsbury Sports Village with Thomas’s physio to meet Rob and learn all about it. As soon as he saw the Kaye Walker, Thomas could not wait to have a go and it was like a switch had been turned on and he suddenly realised he could move on his own and he literally hasn’t looked back since.”
That was just the beginning of Thomas and Quest’s journey. After two years, Thomas’s silver walker was replaced with a blue one and then as he approached his 4th birthday the physio suggested Thomas try using a trike as this would further help build up his strength.
Ali added: “We spoke to Quest and when Rob’s colleague Paul turned up with Thomas’s trike for an assessment, he could not get on it quick enough and off he went with Paul running after him to get it back – we still laugh about that today.”
For the next couple of years, Thomas used his Kaye Walker all day, every day and his trike at every opportunity until he had outgrown it and it was replaced with a Panther trike in June 2009 – once again supplied by Quest.
By this time, Thomas’s and his physio were working hard on his core stability so he would be able to mobilise as much as possible at school and the Panther played a vital role in this.
Thomas’s Kaye Walker and Panther trike were integral in not only ensuring he could be as independent as possible but also as he continued to build up his core strength and mobility at school and home as he grew.
Thomas commented: “To be honest, I don’t remember a life without Quest and Rob being part of it and the Kaye Walkers have literally been a lifeline to me as without them I would have had to use a wheelchair pretty much all day as I am unable to walk unaided due to my Cerebral Palsy.”
In 2014 a trip to Gateshead changed everything for Thomas. At the time, Ali was Chief Executive of CP Sport and she took Thomas to a Grand Prix so he could watch some Para Athletics.
It was here that Thomas was introduced to the world of Race Running.
Thomas continued: “I had never seen Race Running before but it looked brilliant. I spoke to Gavin Drysdale and Hannah Dimes who were both racing and, on the way home I told Mum I wanted to have a go as I thought I might be quite good at it.”
Four months later, after another bout of fundraising Rob turned up with a race runner to assess Thomas and after just one try, Thomas announced he wanted to compete as soon as possible.
Ali then started looking for a club close to home that would accept Thomas and found one in Lincoln which was ideal and they agreed Thomas could train with them.
“We had to educate the coaches and they let Thomas train alongside ambulant and able-bodied athletes and he has been a member ever since”.
Following several months of training, Thomas took part in his first event in Manchester in May 2015 and since then his progress has been nothing short of amazing.
At each age group in which Thomas has competed he has been national champion and last season he broke the under 16 RR2 100 metre world record and established a new Under 16 RR2 world record for 1500 metres in 2019.
Thomas said: “I love the competitions and my physio is always saying how good for me all the training is. For example, during the lock down, my coach Phil Fleetwood put together a strength and conditioning programme and this alone has transformed how I can mobilise when using my Kaye Walker.”
Thomas is now an official Quest Ambassador and his dream is to compete in future Commonwealth Games and Paralympics. To help with his training and competing, Thomas is the proud owner of a Storm Race Runner which the team at Quest has modified to help him as much as possible.
These modifications include carbon fibre low profile bars with time trial brake lever, cut down support posts to save weight and to achieve a flatter profile, a replacement shorter handlebar stem and optimised seat angle.
Thomas concluded: “I cannot thank Rob and everyone at Quest enough for all their support over the last 12 years. Every product I have had, from my first tiny Kaye Walker through to my latest Storm Race Runner has been amazing and never let me down. No matter who you speak to, nothing is ever too much trouble and you can tell they really care about the client and their family.
“Rob even came to support me at my first official competition in Denmark and see how the bikes were performing and if there was anything that could be done to improve them for those taking part.”
Rob Henshaw, managing director at Quest, said: “It has been so rewarding to watch Thomas develop from taking his first tentative steps in a Kaye Walker to his position now as a world champion Race Runner. Thomas is proof that if you put your mind to it anything is possible regardless of your level of mobility and everyone here at Quest looks forward to watching him win more medals and set further world records in the future.”