The Journey to Disabled Motoring UK
Disabled Motoring UK was created in April 2011 having changed its name from Mobilise. It was felt that the name Disabled Motoring UK more accurately reflected the aims and objectives of the charity and removed confusion with charities that had similar sounding names. Mobilise was formed in 2005 as a result of a merger of the Disabled Drivers’ Association (founded as the Invalid Tricycle Association in 1948) and the Disabled Drivers’ Motor Club (founded in 1922). This makes Disabled Motoring UK the oldest organisation run by disabled people as only disabled people may be Trustees.
The Disabled Drivers’ Motor Club
The Disabled Drivers’ Motor Club (DDMC) was originally formed by a group of First World War ex-servicemen who met while having artificial limbs fitted at St Mary’s Hospital Roehampton. The first official meeting of the DDMC was held on 20th April 1922, when it was decided that membership should be open to all disabled drivers of cars and cycle cars. In the early years the club’s principal activities revolved around organising hill climbs and reliability trials including participation in races at the famous Brooklands track. In the late 1920s and early 1930s the DDMC took a more active role in shaping public and parliamentary opinion regarding disabled drivers. In the 1930s the DDMC won the right for disabled people to hold a driving licence, and by the end of the decade was officially recognised by the Minister of Transport as the representative organisation for disabled drivers. During the Second World War the club’s main activity was to provide perspective members with information on suitable cars, adaptations, insurance, driving tuition and petrol allowance. In June 1949 the first edition of the Club’s official journal, “The Disabled Driver” was published, which become the principal means of communication with the members. Through the 1950s the club was involved with a number of campaigns including income tax concessions, on-street parking which became the major campaign of the 1960s which cumulated in the first “Yellow Badges” being issued by local authorities.
The Disabled Drivers’ Association
Having contracted polio and becoming paralysed from the waist down while serving in the Royal Navy in 1945, O A (DENNY) Denly was issued with a petrol powered Argson tricycle with a maximum speed of 30mph. In June 1947 he crossed the Swiss Alps on it, and in August the same year listeners to the BBC Home Service were enthralled by a broadcast about his extraordinary expedition.
So much interest was aroused from the radio broadcast that an article appeared in Motorcycle Magazine to float the idea of an association, and in January 1948 the Invalid Tricycle Association was formed. Initially the main activities revolved around rallies and excursions, travel always formed a large part of the ITA, but the association also focused on mutual help and support for its members. Both travel and mutual help formed a large part of the effort to create a permanent holiday home. This resulted in the purchase of Ashwellthorpe Hall in Norfolk, which offered many disabled people the first opportunity to experience a holiday away from home.
During its early development the main emphasis was in relation to “all things in relation to Trikes” and the early issues of the associations magazine “Magic Carpet” support this. But by 1949 references were starting to appear to the “minicar” and the range and types of cars and adaptations began to increase and develop. The associations remit began to widen to the extent that, in 1963 the ITA decided to change its name to the Disabled Drivers’ Association (DDA).
With the death of Denny Denly in 2010 it was decided to replicate his epic journey of 1947 both as a memorial to the man and to raise awareness with central government of the issues that increasingly affect the lives of disabled people from benefit cuts to the price of fuel.
The Alps Challenge was successfully achieved, but only with the cooperation of individuals, corporate bodies, and the army!
Both charities were instrumental in effecting the changes that occurred during a period of intense activity in the 1970s, including the introduction of the orange (now blue) badge scheme in 1971. A mobility allowance was introduced which ultimately lead to the creation of Motability in 1978. As early as 1963 discussions were held on the possibility of a merger, but at that time it was felt a merger was "unacceptable". Discussions continued on a regular basis, while co-operation on shared objectives on issues that affected the disabled drivers were maintained. In 1979 a decision was taken by DDMC to proceed with a proposed amalgamation, but this was not fulfilled. A number of more abortive attempts were made until the merger finally was achieved in 2005 and Mobilise was formed.
Through all its manifestations as DDMC, DDA, Mobilise and now Disabled Motoring UK, the organisation has acquired ninety years of experience of representing not only disabled drivers, but passengers, scooter and wheelchair users, their families and carers. The charity has a proud heritage of campaigning and representation which shows itself in the benefit of the Blue Badge and Motability schemes, and exemptions from Vehicle Excise Duty, Value Added Tax and Congestion charging.