20 June 2024

Jason Liversidge breaks electric wheelchair speed record

By Izzy Hawksworth/SWNS

A paralysed “adrenaline junkie” has broken a second world speed record for the fastest head-controlled electric wheelchair.

Jason Liversidge, 46, of Rise, who has motor neurone disease, became the first person to complete the electric wheelchair record by reaching an average speed of 41.82mph.

He controlled the specially adapted wheelchair with slight movements of switches around his head, allowing him to move forward, left and right.

Jason had not even done a test run in the vehicle and had only tested the specially adapted controls once.

But on Monday, he raced around Elvington racetrack in York three times, clocking up speeds of up to 48pmh, giving him an average of 41.82mph.

He crashed into the surrounding grass twice, but completed the lap successfully the third time around.

Jason’s wife Liz, 49, said: “It’s a huge achievement – it would be an achievement for anyone to drive a head-controlled vehicle, especially an able-bodied person, as it’s never been done before.

“But for somebody like Jason, who is as severely disabled as you get, who needs 24-hour care and can’t breathe, move or get dressed on his own, it is just a huge achievement.”

Jason broke his first world record in 2020, when he recorded the fastest ride in an electric wheelchair after hitting 55pmh.

And the father-of-two, who has heart failure, kidney failure and respiratory failure, now has a double-page spread in the Guinness Book of World Records.

After Jason suffered a cardiac arrest in May this year, doctors thought it was highly unlikely he would survive.

But after his latest challenge he has now been nicknamed Superman by his daughters Lilly, ten, and Poppy, nine.

Liz added: “They didn’t want him to do it at first. They were there at his first world record, and I think that was enough for them.

“But because he has been poorly lately, and in and out of hospital, they were not really looking forward to him going and doing it.

“Now he has done it and he is OK, they are immensely proud of him.

“They keep telling me how proud they are of daddy, and how he is amazing and they call him Superman.”

Liz described Jason as “a bit of a speed freak” when he was able-bodied, which is why he chose to keep doing these challenges.

She also shared a message to other people with life-limiting conditions, saying: “Motor neurone disease is a devastating condition, and people just become completely paralysed and locked in their own bodies.

“Some people do give up, and you can’t really blame them for doing that as you never know how you would react if you were in that situation yourself.

“If you’ve got the determination and the support and the will to do things, it does show that really nothing is impossible.

“I just want to raise awareness for this and conditions like motor neurone disease.

“Even though we have not raised money on this occasion, it is always good to get it out there and raise awareness because obviously, the more awareness is raised, the more people will donate money.”

Jason was diagnosed with the degenerative disease, for which there is no cure, in 2013. Since then he has taken on a number of challenges, including scaling Mount Snowdon in an electric wheelchair and abseiling off the Humber Bridge.

In 2014, a team from the BBC’s DIY SOS: The Big Build transformed the Liversidges’ family home.